“Happiness Is Not A Fish That You Can Catch” was a hit song for the Canadian band Our Lady Peace, and it was not about Steve Naccarato.
It could have been.
The son of a Tacoma icon, Naccarato spent his youth in the clubhouses at Cheney Stadium, where father Stan was the general manager of one team after another.
There were perks. Steve got to meet Joe DiMaggio and Muhammad Ali, and went to the 1978 World Series with his dad.
His own baseball playing career, however,
got only as far as community college.
“All my life, I think I’ve been trying to replace baseball,” he said.
Naccarato chased his happiness up and down the West Coast, trying on careers like they were T-shirts.
He went to Hollywood in 1983 and became a technical adviser on the television show “Bay City Blues,” a baseball series created by Steven Bochco. It was cancelled after eight weeks.
He pursued photography, and his work was shown in Tacoma galleries, but he knew his limitations.
“I found photography a better hobby than a vocation,” he said.
He dabbled in real estate, but didn’t much like sales and hated cold calls. When a friend asked him to be the manager for his band, Motopony, Naccarato jumped in and even produced its first album.
“As Motopony got bigger, I felt a little out of my element,” Naccarato said. “I didn’t have many contacts in the music business. I told them to get a manager who could take them where they were headed.”
Two marriages. Two divorces. Naccarato said he emerged with two great joys in children Nicholas, now 26, and daughter Mia, 11.
One brain tumor. One fractured hip. Two restaurants opened with older brother Gordon, one of them the over-the-top successful Pacific Grill.
“Gordon made them go, I worked out front,” he said.
Motopony lead singer Daniel Blue, doodled out a heart from the Tacoma area code of 253. Naccarato saw it as a way to celebrate a love for the city he’d grown up in.
“I built a website, acquired the logo from Daniel, and had other local artists – Lisa Kinoshita and Lisa Fruichantie – come up with jewelry and clothing created around the heart logo,” Naccarato said.
The trademarked insignia and its products are sold in a half dozen local shops, and online at 253heart.com and Facebook.
The merchandise sold well, but Naccarato’s own heart was elsewhere.
“I’m kind of a serial entrepreneur. I love creating something, but I get bored,” he said. “I always had a dream. I wanted to create a great hamburger joint.”
In May, he and brother Gordon opened Shake Shake Shake in the Stadium District. In the first three months, they sold 15,000 milkshakes.
“Remember going to your favorite burger joint as a kid, getting a burger and a shake? That’s what I wanted to create,” Naccarato said. “My goal when we opened was to have the best fries, the best burgers, the best shakes. If we can do that, everything will take care of itself.
“I see a kid come in with his grandmother and I almost tear up. I told one boy, ‘Remember this, it’s special.’”
Now Naccarato is at his burger joint seven days a week, supervising everything, pitching in when it’s busiest. He takes time out each week to pursue another love – golf.
“I’m getting pretty good, and my baseball swing has translated to a pretty solid golf swing,” he said. “I play with a great group of friends, have a great time.”
At age 57, Steve Naccarato slowed his pursuit of happiness only to discover it had found him.Larry LaRue: 253-597-8638 firstname.lastname@example.org blog.thenewstribune.com/larue