Thursday, 20 June 2019 00:00

A Memorable D-Day Ribbon Cutting

By Todd Shimkus, President of the Saratoga County Chamber of Commerce | Business

It was Thursday, June 6, 2019. The 75th Anniversary of D-Day.

This year’s ceremonies, in Normandy and elsewhere, were viewed as a milestone that may have represented the last large gathering of D-Day veterans around the globe.

Like we do locally on many days in Saratoga County, we had a ribbon cutting planned to celebrate a local family owned businesses’ 55th year in operation, Chez Pierre Restaurant.

Richie Snyder, our Vice President for Communications, and I arrived with our ribbon and giant scissors, at their location on Route 9 in Wilton.

Perhaps you’ve been there in the last 55 years. 

But if not, I’m willing to guess you might remember driving by this family owned restaurant with the Eiffel Tower shaped sign. It is unique for sure.

We believe every ribbon cutting is the celebration of a dream come true.

I think I can say this ribbon cutting was historic, at least for those of us who attended.

As Chez Pierre’s website notes, “Chez Pierre’s doors opened in April of 1964, by E. Joseph and Pierrette Baldwin. 

While serving in the U.S. Army right after WWII, Joe met Pierrette in a small town called Nancy, France.  Pierrette had grown up in the restaurant business since her parents operated a cafe where many U.S. soldiers visited.

Upon returning to the States after marrying, the couple found an abandoned restaurant in a rural part of upstate New York. 

55 years later, along with Joe and Pierrette’s four children and the children’s spouses, Chez Pierre has become one of the longest family operated restaurants in our area.”

Pierrette Baldwin was the first person to welcome me that day. But right away, she told me that she just wanted this day to be over. 

You see, she and her family had been liberated by Allied forces from the Nazi’s 75 years ago. She was 9 at the time. 

I cannot remember ever meeting someone who was liberated on this day. 

But this day was not a day to celebrate for Pierrette. It was a day instead when she remembered the brave Allied forces who sacrificed so much. It was a somber day.

After we cut the ribbon and celebrated the family’s business milestone, she told us stories describing how her family survived the occupation. 

Let’s just say it’s amazing to think how knowing how to play an accordion could be the difference between life and death.

Sitting at the bar, she shared stories of how her family’s business, Chez Pierre, had succeeded for so long. They make sure the food is always special and the service exceptional. They care about their customers and treat them as friends.

We know from working with small business owners every day how hard it can be for a local business to succeed, grow and thrive.

The survival rate for family businesses is not high. But Pierrette had survived much worse in her life. And those memories were vivid on this historic day.

It was one of the most remarkable and special ribbon cuttings I have ever attended in my chamber career. 

I certainly will never forget her story and how important it is to her that the sacrifices made by so many during World War II must never be forgotten!

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