Ice Cream Smuggler Loses Legal Battle to Stay at Dennis Location

The Ice Cream Smuggler in Dennis

DENNIS – The Ice Cream Smuggler has lost in its legal attempt to remain at its current location on Route 6A in Dennis.

The courts ruled against Carter Catalano, the co-owner of the business, in the eviction process and dismissed a breach of contract lawsuit against the landlord.

The Smuggler’s lease expired in May and the property owners opted to rent the building to Cape Cod Creamery, which also has locations in Yarmouth and Hyannis.

Catalano said the Smuggler isn’t leaving yet.

“We are still operating in our location and still hoping for a fair resolution while we are weighing our options,” said Catalano.

The Ice Cream Smuggler was opened by the Hassett family, which owns the building, 39 years ago. The family later sold the business but remained owners of the property.

The Catalanos purchased the business in 2005 in the middle of a 30-year lease.

Catalano said a lease had been offered to them last September by the landlord, but they were never able to negotiate the terms. Catalano said they had a few questions about the proposal, but never heard back from the landlord’s attorneys.

Jody Hassett Sanchez said there continues to be a misunderstanding about the Hassett family’s role in the property dispute.

“It was the tenants who made a series of decisions that have left them where they are today, yet they continue to imply otherwise,” Hassett Sanchez said. “So many of our friends here in Dennis have really been outraged by the Catalano’s antagonistic social media campaign that impugns our family and suggests that we have not acted in good faith when we really, really have.”

Hassett Sanchez said her family fully expected the Catalano’s to sign the lease they were offered and the Smuggler would have remained in the building for another five years.

“So really nothing happened. There were no conversations with any other tenants until they did not sign that lease,” Hassett Sanchez said. “So to suggest anything else is really not quite truthful.”

An eviction date has not been issued and it is not known how long the Smuggler will be able to stay at 716 Main Street.

“I think we just need to see what happens in the court in Orleans and then make decisions based on that,” Hassett Sanchez.

Catalano thanks the community and the customers of the Ice Cream Smuggler who have rally around the ice cream shop.

“It’s been unbelievable. Every single night there’s new groups of people coming back to their homes or visiting and they have just have supported us in every way that they can,” Catalano said. “And people have offered us attornys or PR or I get piggy banks from little kids – anything everyone can do. Everyone has something to give and at the Smuggler it is where we all come together to support each other.”

One thing that both Catalano and Hassett Sanchez can agree on is the love people have for ice cream.

“Ice cream is something that brings us all together,” said Catalano. “If you are five to 85 you still love ice cream and you still want to be together at the Smuggler.”

“Cape Codders have this curiously strong relationship with ice cream and I include myself in that as a native,” Hassett Sanchez said. “I wish the Catalano’s success going forward, and I’m confident there will never be a shortage of superior ice cream on this peninsula.”

Hassett Sanchez said the last thing her family wants is conflict.

“The Ice Cream Smuggler is really dear to our hearts and we wish the Catalano’s well,” Hassett Sanchez said. “They have a lucrative business, a loyal following and a future filled with possibilities.”

Catalano said her family has looked around for a possible new location for the Smuggler.

“We haven’t found any viable buildings at this point,” Catalano said. “It’s hard considering the location of the Smuggler is so tied to the business.”


The Catalano family is thanking the community for their support in the following letter.

July 16, 2017

Dear Readers,

The owners and staff of Ice Cream Smuggler would like to thank and its readers for their support during our ongoing struggle to stay in our Dennis location.  While our story has been reported several times, there are some ongoing misconceptions we’d like to correct.

The Hassett family founded the Ice Cream Smuggler nearly 40 years ago. In 1986 the business – but not the building – was sold to Alan and Margaret Tyson, who did an amazing job building the brand and forming strong ties to the Dennis community. Thirteen years ago, we purchased the Smuggler from the Tysons, continuing it’s legacy, expanding the business and forging our own roots with our customers and neighbors.

When we bought Smugglers, we inherited a 30-year lease that included an option to purchase clause.  For nearly two years we’ve been in discussions with Mrs. Hassett to renegotiate the lease or buy the building outright before its expiration this past June.  In fact, we were given assurances by the Hassett family that Smugglers would remain in its location. Unfortunately, while we thought we were negotiating in good faith, Mrs. Hassett chose to lease the building to another business.

We are deeply saddened by this on many levels.  First, we have worked hard to be respectful and exemplary tenants, worthy to carry on the Smuggler tradition.  Secondly, we have put our hearts and souls into making the Ice Cream Smuggler an integral part of the Cape Cod summer experience.  And finally, we have built our lives and those of our children around the warm, supportive communities of Dennis and Barnstable.  This is where Carter grew up and we can’t imagine leaving it.

Unfortunately, relocating the Smuggler within Dennis is impossible given real estate availability and local ordinances regulating business sites.  Moving to another town would also be difficult and would erase a nearly 40 year legacy.

While we face significant setbacks in our pursuit to keep Smugglers in its current and historic location, we take comfort in the overwhelming support and kindness of people from all over the country.  We choose to focus on the outpouring of compassion and cheerfulness that our customers share with us everyday.

Thank you again to everyone who has so graciously supported us.  Our greatest hope is that we can come to an agreement that is fair and satisfactory for everyone involved and that someday we will celebrate the Smuggler’s 50th anniversary at its original location in Dennis.

Paul and Carter Catalano
Owners, Ice Cream Smuggler


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