For John Reardon,
life happens in the kitchen.
During much of his career, John worked in the restaurant business, then in 2004, he walked into Compliments to the Chef and his life took on a new flavor.
AN APPEALING OPPORTUNITY
Since then, John’s run the unique kitchen and cutlery store, previously opened by Andrea and Dave LeFrance in 2002.
During that time, John’s wife of 41 years, Paula, a SUNY Delhi business professor; son, John; and daughter, Aubrey, have also been involved.
“They know the store backwards and forwards and could run it with their eyes closed,” he said.
A SIZZLING HOT BUSINESS
Twenty years ago, it was an auspicious time to be in business.
“The early 2000s was just joyous. I sold so much back in those days,” remembers John.
A vibrant Rachel Ray had a hit show on the Food Network and because she used a Wusthof Trident Santoku knife, everyone had to have one, he said. They sold so many; the shop received an award.
Then the economy collapsed in 2008. The following year, American Express started Small Business Saturday (the Saturday after Thanksgiving) to help stores like his.
It was like the final scene in “It’s a Wonderful Life.” he said, where it seems as if the entire town comes out to show their support.
“It was the biggest day of sales that year and has been every year since. It’s a wonderful day.”
WELCOME TO MY TABLE
A dozen years ago, John Reardon began sharing stories, kitchen tips, and recipes in the Saratoga TODAY newspaper.
In 2014, Compliments to the Chef moved to Fresh Market Plaza on Marion Ave. They moved again three years later to their current Railroad Place address. John also began writing In the Kitchen features for Simply Saratoga magazine.
Chocked full of interesting anecdotes, reader favorites include the tale of John vs. the Onions; the tense family Thanksgiving thwarted by a turkey wearing grandma’s glasses; and the dinner date that ended up in the emergency room.
Although they love his stories, the public’s interest in cooking was waning until the pandemic, when John witnessed a resurgence.
“It was scary but everyone pitched in and that saved this business,” he said.
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