John Pistone is co-owner of J. Pistone Market and Gathering Place, where fresh (and healthy) food is always on the menu.
By Jennifer Proe
Who: John Pistone
Business: J. Pistone Market and Gathering Place, at the corner of Warrensville Center and Almar roads, near Thornton Park
Mission: To be a place where neighbors can gather to enjoy good food, and where employees like coming to work. We are a non-server based, fast-casual eatery focused on healthy eating. We serve fresh food made in small batches, mostly plant- and grain-based cuisine. We don’t even own a deep fryer. We try to do our own thing and not be fad-conscious.
What I Love About My Work: The clientele is phenomenal. We have great customers and great employees. You couldn’t find nicer people anywhere in the world. I love that I’m allowed to be creative every day and that we can give something back to the community. We’ve done hundreds of benefits and fundraisers and help out with the meal train service through St. Dominic Church. We’ve been here 17 years now – long enough to see some people’s kids grow up.
Personal Background: I grew up around food and the restaurant business. My grandfather was a Sicilian immigrant who owned a bar and restaurant across from John Adams High. He was one of the first to serve pizza in Cleveland. Later, it became a jazz club, which is how he met my grandmother, who was a jazz singer.
I have four older sisters and we all learned how to cook at home, starting with the tomato sauce. My sister Joan is my business partner and co-owner of J. Pistone. We grew up in Beachwood, and I went to St. Dominic School and then St. Ignatius High School.
I studied business at Ohio University for two years and then switched to Hocking Technical College where I graduated from culinary school. I worked in the restaurant business in Florida for several years and earned my Certified Executive Chef training about 20 years ago. Joan and I both moved back to Cleveland to be near our parents in the 1980s. We bought out my dad’s business partners at the Lincoln Inn downtown, which we ran for many years.
Joan and I started J. Pistone in 2000, when my twin sons Jack and Miles were six months old. (John’s wife, Cindy, is a teacher in the Cleveland public schools and a yoga instructor.) When we first opened, it was just the market and café.
We added catering about seven years later, which is now about 50 percent of our business. Joan handles the front of the house and is the catering coordinator, and I handle the back of the house and work most of our events.
We are very approachable for both big orders and small – whether it’s a staffed event for 200 people or an order for 20 chocolate chip cookies. We offer a lot of local products in our market, as well as beer and wine, and of course our bakery. A lot of people come in after work for our prepared foods, too.
On Working and Living in Shaker Heights: I’ve always believed in living near work; it’s a quality of life issue for me. I don’t want to waste my life in a car. I don’t like suburbia with chain restaurants and chain stores. I can’t handle anything bigger than Beachwood mall.
We like walking our two Welsh Corgis, Max and Eddie, around the Shaker Lakes. I enjoy just driving through Shaker, with all of the beautiful homes. We’re so lucky Shaker was planned in this way, with the local transit and proximity to downtown. We mostly cook our meals at home, but when we eat out I like Pearl Asian Kitchen and Big Al’s Diner on Larchmere for a good Sunday breakfast. (J. Pistone is closed on Sundays.)
On the side, I play electric guitar in a local band called City Limits. I’ve always loved music. We play mostly original music, kind of Rootsy/Americana stuff, and we perform about three to four times per month. It’s one of the reasons I like to keep my evenings somewhat open.
J. Pistone Market and Gathering Place
3245 Warrensville Road, Shaker Heights, OH 44122
(216) 283-3663 | jpistone.com