“Looking back, If I were to give myself advice in my first year it would be to not try and do everything by myself and to take advice from as many other business owners as I can. If you have an idea or passion that you want to turn into a business, it’s important to take courses, advice, and to teach yourself the business side of things before diving in. Gerard’s has weathered the flood of 87, the ice storm of 98, the fire of 2015, and we even closed for two months last year due to the pandemic. You can’t control everything and that’s something that I was trying to do when I started.
Claude’s father started Gerard’s in 1964 in a smaller storefront just down the street with a much more limited menu. It got passed on to Claude and he had owned it for about 25 years before wanting to retire from the food business. For twelve years Jeff, who was a beloved manager, owned and ran the shop but after his passing we were approached to take over the ownership again. It was a no-brainer for us. Claude had time to do other things and had missed having the restaurant. It’s a place that has been a part of the family for so long; The dough is Claude’s recipe, It’s named after his uncle, and it is something we want to hopefully pass on and keep in the family in the future.
Having your own restaurant is like you’re 24/7 always on call. You’re always thinking, obsessing, and worrying about it, but it’s also more rewarding than I ever thought it would be. We truly have the best customers and I think that is the thing about being in a small town like Gardiner- Even when our dining room is full, we typically know every single person sitting and eating. We have people who come several times a week and it really gives you the chance to get to know them.
I think we’ve done a great job at building our customer base in a variety of ways. Our menu has really expanded over the years to cater to food trends. We have vegan and gluten free options now to bring in people with food sensitivities. I also think that the customer service we provide keeps people coming back. We are really picky about who we hire and we try to make everyone feel as if we’ve known them forever. We have seen many changes on the street over the years, businesses come and go, times and trends change but our customer support has stayed the same. Customers will reminisce on memories they have in Gerard’s from the pinball machines, to birthday parties, and stories of Claude’s father never turning anyone away. Those are the customers who are now bringing their children and grandchildren in to eat with us.”
In the mood for some pizza? #ThinkGardinerFirst. You can find Gerard’s on Facebook and Instagram (@ Gerards_Pizza), or at 233 Water Street in Gardiner. Find their menu at www.gerardspizza.com and order by phone at (207) 582-6178.