Ridgetown entrepreneur JoJo and Daniel, stays busy in their newly opened café, part of JoJo’s Paradise Bed and Breakfast, bakery/café and hair salon, which JOJO runs in addition to teaching hospitality at a Secondary School in Chatham, and Daniel is retired from 45 years with Bell. Driving down Main Street in Ridgetown, when you see the sign for JoJo’s Paradise Bed and Breakfast, you might want to make a point of stopping in to see what owner JoJo Thibault has cooking in her bakery and café behind the house.
JOJO is a colourful whirlwind of a person, with a beautiful soul, who is just itching to feed you, and she pours her love of cooking into all the offerings she has in her small café. Open in the month Aug 2019 the café and bakery are a perfect accent to her bed and breakfast and hair salon she already operates at her Main Street location.
A teacher of hospitality courses at a Secondary School in Chatham, JOJO promotes her love of food and cooking to students by day, and goes home to Ridgetown on Wednesday and Thursday evenings to transform hair and make people feel good about how they look.
On weekends, JOJO opens the café with the help of husband, Daniel, offering her signature crepes, pies, French apple cake, tarts, muffins and so much more from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. on the weekend.
Once a month, she also offers a Victorian-style high tea experience – with a bit of French style added – which includes an appetizer, chocolate fountain, scones and sandwiches. She said her patrons love it, dressing up in hats, with a prize for the winner of the best hat.
“When I used to work for the municipality, I was always making my pies, and they are my big thing. I was always making big dinners and Daniel would tell the neighbours, ‘Dinner is ready,’ and my friends would say, ‘You are always making so much food and giving it away, why don’t you start your own café and sell it?’ And that’s what we’ve done – an open-concept kitchen.”
With the open concept – a counter separating diners from the kitchen area – is fun because people can see them make the food, see that it is all fresh and homemade and it gives the café a family dinner atmosphere.
The bed and breakfast, which has been open for two years, seven days a week, was always a dream of JOJO’s and she was very excited to add the café to bring the whole property and concept together.
“We love hosting people, to make people feel good,” the business owner said. “I love to treat them like kings and queens and they know they can relax, so they can rest. I can do their hair and fill their belly all in one day.”
JOJO makes all of her baked goods and canned goods from local produce and all by hand.
“Everything is homemade. It is all French-style Canadian food,” she added.
Born in Quebec, JOJO embraces her French heritage, incorporating that into her cooking style. She and Daniel travelled to Paris and she brought some of that tradition back with her to Ridgetown.
“I wanted to bring a little Paris in here, so when we used to go there, they had crepe stands, and this one we used to go to, the young man gave me the recipe. That’s where my husband proposed to me.
JOJO and Daniel said cooking and sharing food with people is the part she loves a great deal.
As a very spiritual person, she said she believes God gave her the gift of making and sharing her food.
JOJO and Daniel credits a big part of her success to other business owners in Ridgetown who mentored and guided her as she worked to make her dream a reality, and she works to pay it forward by supporting the community, and, of course, feeding them.
Paying it forward is something we believes strongly in, and she told a story about the owner of Apollo Construction, Fred Naclerio, who gave her a helping hand with equipment when she started her café. All he asked for in return was for us to pay it forward by taking 10 of her famous pies to the Shepherd’s Way Inn on King Street in Chatham, something she was happy to do, plus much more.
“We went there and donated pies, bread and muffins on behalf of Fred, and we want to give him a big thank you. He helped us out so much and then we helped out by paying it forward. That is what community is all about,” she said.
The business is located at 96 Main St. west in Ridgetown, and JOJO or Daniel can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. To see more, you can also check out JoJo’s Paradise on Facebook.
Free resident car parking
Free Wi-Fi high-speed internet
Tea & coffee making facilities
Desk & chair
Alarm clock radio