JFK was our young new president. Elvis, Roy Orbison and Patsy Cline topped the charts. A large pizza cost a buck. WWII Veteran Arthur Castraberti had a wife, three young children, a good education and a great job with Prince Macaroni Company in Lowell, MA. The year was 1961 and Arthur’s life was about to change.
Prince Macaroni owned a 12-seat drive-in pizza place in Saugus, known as the “The Leaning Tower of Pizza”. It was losing money. Prince’s president thought Arthur could turn it around. He had no idea just how right he was. But Arthur was not interested in management by committee. He wanted to own the place. Arthur and Prince made a deal. No money down, no interest. Arthur had to make good on the failed business’ debts in 10 years and the place was his.
“I had never been in a restaurant kitchen until I bought one,” said Arthur. “When I walked in, I saw two employees—a waitress in the corner reading, and a cook flat on his back asleep. I introduced myself and fired them both. ’But how will you run the place without us?’ they protested. ‘Oh, a great deal better, I imagine.” Arthur called his 65-year-old father, Oreste. “You know how to make sauce, don’t you Pa? Well, I could use your help.” Oreste, an authentic Italian cook, worked with Arthur to develop the original Prince Sauce that has made them famous today. Arthur’s wife, Rose Marie worked upstairs doing the books and raised their three children, Steven, Linda and Paul.
After five long years of tremendously hard work, Arthur began to sense some progress. “I cleaned up the place; gave it heart.” Arthur had transformed Prince into a warm family restaurant where people can relax. He gave huge discounts to the Little League teams, who considered Prince their second home. Seniors received a free meal on Arthur’s parents’ birthdays—a tradition still practiced today.
“I sowed the seeds of my success when I could least afford it,” remembered Arthur fondly. “I took in the kids and the seniors and now those kids come back with their own families and their own teams.” A few years later, Arthur had finally saved enough money to expand the restaurant. “Every part of this building is an appendage of my body,” asserted Arthur.
After several expansions over a 10-year period, Prince boasted a large dining room and three function rooms. Then in 1978, Prince added the highly successful, 175-seat Giggles Comedy Club, which is now sold out almost every week. Prince Restaurant currently offers seating for over 700 people.
For 44 years, while growing Prince Restaurant into a legendary icon, Arthur Castraberti became known as one of the Boston area’s most successful restaurateurs. During that time, he poured his heart into the community. He became president of the Route 1 Business Association, founded the Saugus Chamber of Commerce and supported dozens of charities including the Little Leagues, local schools, the Neurofibromatosis and Make-a-Wish Foundations and the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. According to the Boston Globe, Arthur Castraberti “is one of the visionary entrepreneurs who built Route 1 as we know and love it.” Rose Marie passed away in 2000 and Arthur in 2011. It was their dream to have the restaurant continue in the Castraberti family.
Prince is now owned and operated by their son Steven and his wife Trisha. They continue to take pride in the family business and are greeting customers at the door every day. According to Steven, “It’s so rewarding and exciting to walk by a table and realize there are three, sometimes four generations, of one family at one table”. Steven and Trisha are both active in community organizations and are always willing to help out. They reach out to non-profit organizations to give them fundraising advice. Their son, Andrew, is now working at Prince during his college years, making him a fourth generation in the legendary family business.
Prince Pizzeria has received numerous awards, including being voted Best Pizza of the North Shore and is often called, “one of our favorite family-style restaurants in New England,” as VisitNewEngland.com puts it (see this review). The Phantom Gourmet says Prince is “ideal for feeding a family or a party.” Don’t take their word for it. Come in and see for yourself. You’ll feel part of the family in no time.