“This is so bittersweet. I have spent almost my entire adult life at Fresh Starts and will miss it every day. How many of us can look back and say that? I have been truly blessed,” Lindholm said. She is retiring after spending more than three decades operating Fresh Starts in downtown Flossmoor.
Joann Lindholm has two favorite sayings: “Whatever goes around, comes around so treat people like you would like to be treated: With honesty and integrity.” And, “Life is a journey. Enjoy it every day.”
Those principles have always guided the owner of Fresh Starts Restaurant, 1040 Sterling Ave. She announced her retirement after 31 years of nurturing and loving the business.
The establishment has been a fixture in downtown Flossmoor since 1986.
“This is so bittersweet. I have spent almost my entire adult life at Fresh Starts and will miss it every day. How many of us can look back and say that? I have been truly blessed,” Lindholm said.
Lindholm opened Fresh Starts with former partner Jeanne McInerney as a gourmet food shop, espresso bar and bakery. They also sold flowers. There were a few tables where patrons could eat the salads, baked goods and cheeses while they enjoyed a coffee. In 1989, three years after it opened, the pair made the business a restaurant and bar.
It’s grown to accommodate seating for 60 and an off-site catering service. Reviews were published in the Chicago Tribune, The Star, The Daily Southtown, Chicago Magazine and the Chicago Sun-Times. The business saw a boost in January 2014 when it was featured on WTTW Channel 11’s “Check, Please!” dining program.
The moments she’ll miss most, Lindholm said, are the stories made with diners and the staff she considers as close as family.
“I should have started a journal from the beginning with stories, all the many employees, customers and events that took place,” she said. “(It) would have been a really good book to write and read.”
She will stay in the area, but does plan on traveling, spending time with her family, golfing and painting.
“It has been 31 wonderful years doing what I love and I truly feel it is time for a refresh of Fresh Starts,” Lindholm said. “I want to pass the baton to some young energetic people who will move it forward.”
Rich and Tracy Cairo, who work at Fresh Starts, will take that baton. Lindholm will stay around to help as long as the Carios need, she said.
“I wanted to pass it on to people who have the same passion and drive,” Lindholm said. “It just feels right.”
Even after she leaves for good, though, Lindholm won’t be a stranger at Fresh Starts.
“I look forward to seeing everyone at the new restaurant,” she said. “I’ll be at a table or the bar enjoying being served.”