How could I have imagined that driving down a California highway in a 67 Volkswagon van, rag top down, singing Stevie Wonder hits, would lead me to a small city on an island in Canada for the past 29 years, creating and operating John’s Place Restaurant? Oh yes, I had the experience — I’ve been cooking for 30 years, even won a gold medal at the food Olympics, but that’s a far cry from running a very busy diner style restaurant with breakfast, lunch and dinner 364 days a year. It sure didn’t start out that way, though.
I came with my best friends in LA, John Luchansky, who left for his home in Ohio and Joe Weisbrodt, ( who has since passed away Nov 19, 2004 ), a transplanted LA man, to open a hamburger joint called Little Sammy’s Fattburger with his childhood buddy Howie Siegel. A far cry from gourmet meals and gold medals you should ask? You’re right; looking back, I must have been crazy, but I’ve been a Bob Dylan troobadoor my whole life and the intrigue of owning something far outweighed my culinary desire. It will be of no surprise to everyone that I lasted just about a year. I went to bed with Fattburgers on my mind and woke up to the smoke of the charbroiler. Do you believe in destiny? I had a ticket to leave Victoria and go on another Bilbo Baggins adventure to Tahiti. I had saved $6,000 and was headed to the sun. I had no idea what was in Tahiti but I knew it was warm and had plenty of girls and NO FATTBURGERS! As luck goes, my motorcycle broke down and I had to start walking to work.
Nice walk from Bay & Fernwood down Pandora Ave. to Little Sammy’s. I had to pass the old, boarded-up London Fish “n” Chips restaurant everyday. I would glance over and keep walking, dreaming about the sun in Tahiti. Well, each day I would start to linger, peering through the large glass windows in the front, glancing at the tall ceilings and thinking about an old fashioned diner, the kind we all grew up in back then, before the flood of Franchise “FOOD”. Suddenly Tahiti was very far away and I had to find out some things about the building. It was boarded up with no sign of life.