“When I started my business 25 years ago I went in to the shop at 3 o’clock in the morning, seven days a week. But it didn’t feel like work because it was a beginning…. I was laying seedlings in the ground, I was growing a company.”
So Jules’ Owner-Chef Anita Baglaneas reminisced when asked how it feels to be celebrating the company’s 25th anniversary this year.
“It was the best time in my life,” Anita continued, “because I was already a veteran cook…I had been an executive chef in some very well-known restaurants and kitchens…I basically knew that I had what it took to start from scratch… to start my own company. Starting Jules was a joy!” she exhaled.
“It was a joy to wash my own pots and pans and to know they were done properly–to chop my own herbs and ingredients and then know where to find them in the refrigerator. I was making everything–mayonnaise…my own ketchup…. everything was homemade. This is why I say the company has wonderful roots, and why it’s been like building a garden. Once you plant strong roots, healthy growth follows–even as Jules continues to grow today. Of course so many people were instrumental, too.”
Jules Catering’s very first customers, Fran and Michael Goldberg, have been singing Anita’s praises from even before she catered her very first event (a birthday party for Michael in their Back Bay apartment).
“When Michael and I first met Anita it was ‘instant love,'” Fran recalled. “This was back when Anita was working as a chef at the old St. Cloud restaurant, in Boston’s South End. She had a dream to start her own catering business, but of course it’s not easy to give up what’s secure and to venture out on your own. So Michael and I encouraged her. ‘Anita,’ we said, ‘you need to do this for yourself.'”
“Once Anita actually launched Jules,” Fran continued, “I’d help out by getting all dressed up and walking up and down Newbury and Boylston Streets, dropping off sample menus and little goody bags (cellophane-wrapped cookes with pretty bows), to promote the new company. And people were receptive! Twenty-five years have passed, and–clearly–Anita and Jules Catering are thriving today.”
“For all these 25 years our respect for the integrity of Jules’ food and Anita’s creative vision and her passion for service has only grown,” Fran explained.
Does anyone now working at Jules date back to the company’s beginnings?
“Yes!” Anita exclaimed, “Jeffey and Elkin!
That’s Line Cook Jeff Ginyard (who appears in the snapshot at the top of this post and also just below) and Expeditor Elkin Restrepo. Both first met Anita before the 1987 launch of Jules, when all three were working in various capacities for Rebecca’s Cafe.
Jeff told us: “I really was a ‘seedling’ when I first met Anita. I was 18-years-old and working as a slicer at one of the Rebecca’s Cafes in downtown Boston, preparing meats for sandwiches, when Anita asked if I would like to come along when she started her own company. I said, ‘Sure!’ My mom then cooked at Wentworth Institute on Huntington Avenue, and I had learned a lot from her. But once I started at Jules I had to learn Anita’s way.”
Elkin Restrepo, who also first connected with Anita at Rebecca’s Cafe, agreed that he, too, was a seedling when he followed Anita to Jules: “I started at the bottom, washing dishes. Then I did prep work, then cooking, then driving…and now, for about the last 20 years, I’ve been Expeditor at Jules, which means I’m the middleman between the kitchen and the drivers. (Jules has seven vans and we serve many areas in and around Boston and Cambridge, so it’s up to me to make sure the right food goes to the right job–and that it gets there on time.”)
The ‘Founding Mother’
“Well, I’m not doing the 3 a.m. thing anymore, because I don’t have to!” Anita laughed, when we asked her to contrast 25 years ago with today.
“So many wonderful people support me now. Some have been with Jules nearly as long as Elkin and Jeff, others are relative newcomers. And of course the great thing is that those with experience mentor the ‘new generation,’ which is essential, because we all started out as seedlings and we all need to continue to grow!”
“And when I think about what they’re doing now, I’m full of gratitude. Customers and employees both have enabled me to maintain Jules’ growth, and do so with a lot of integrity.”
“I planted seedlings with healthy roots, I grew a garden…and it has paid off. Last December during our busiest time of year I didn’t have to do anything, because my team executed so professionally, so beyond my expectations. And now that it’s really busy again with all the college graduations… Guess what? I’m actually taking time off!”
Anita Baglaneas with Jeff Ginyard Circa 1987: Courtesy of Jules Catering
Anita Baglaneas with Fran and Michael Goldberg: Courtesy of Fran and Michael Goldberg
All other (contemporary) photos: Liz Muir