Sunday, October 17, 2021

Closed his diner, switched it to a food truck

Jack Celeste put Coach’s Corner on wheels

By Natalie Barden, Chronicle Summer Intern

Coach’s Corner used to be located at 71 Saratoga Ave. in South Glens Falls. Now it’s at whatever corner owner Jack Celeste chooses. He moved his business to a truck.

Now ‘Coach’s Corner’ is wherever Jack Celeste parks it.

Last July, Mr. Celeste decided not to renew his lease on the diner. “It’s time to make a change,” he thought.

By mid-September 2020 the truck was up and running. Nearly 10 months later, he describes the move as “an excellent, refreshing change.”

Mr. Celeste says his decision was partly motivated by the pandemic and partly by watching food trucks on a Food Network show and thinking the job looked fun.

“I knew things were going to be tougher,” because of the pandemic, Mr. Celeste said. “I knew what people [restaurant owners] were going through, and I didn’t have to go through that. We took a chance — a big chance.”

The vehicle that enabled Jack Celeste’s Food Network-inspired switch from diner to truck. Chronicle photos/Natalie Barden

With the food truck, he says, “I can control my life more and I’m meeting a lot of new people. I’m not tied down to seven days a week, 70 hours a week in a diner.”

An added benefit: “People really like food trucks.”

The Coach’s Corner menu went through minor modifications during the switch to the truck, but remained fairly consistent with the previous diner fare.

Breakfast sandwiches and burritos are consistent favorites. On weekends, people tend towards pancakes and french toast — the latter made with Villa Bread, a Glens Falls favorite. Turkey clubs and the new quesadilla burger are popular afternoon picks. Philly cheesesteak sandwiches are Mr. Celeste’s favorite order to make.

A Coach’s Corner crowd favorite: the breakfast sandwich. Photo/ Coach’s Corner Facebook

He says his two daughters, Mallory Celeste — the brains behind many new Coach’s Corner recipes — and Lindsey Fredette, have been “very instrumental in this,” staffing the truck and more. He adds, “I always loved cooking for my daughters.”

Beth Celeste, Mr. Celeste’s wife, “does all the hard work behind the scenes making salads and helping me prep my everyday menu,” he says. “She also does all my business paperwork, along with my son-in-law Elton Smith…We wouldn’t be successful without them.” Luke McCane and Todd Ramsey often step in to staff the truck, too.

Some of Jack Celeste’s Coach’s Corner crew, in front of their food truck’s serving window. From left, Luke McCane, Jack’s daughter Mallory Celeste, holding Quinn Fredette, Jack’s daughter Lindsey Fredette, holding Austin Fredette, eatery owner Jack Celeste.

Mr. Celeste’s grandchildren Quinn Fredette, 2, and Austin Fredette, 2 months, are unofficial stars of the Coach’s Corner Facebook page. “Tips go in their name,” he said. “Maybe they can use it to buy books for college someday.”

Most mornings, the white food truck can be spotted in the parking lots of Mr. Bill’s carhop restaurant on Route 9 in South Glens Falls and at the EPIC Building (Chase Sports) at 22 Hudson Falls Road in Moreau’s Fenimore section, by the bridge to Hudson Falls. When it isn’t stationed in a particular place, the truck also offers catering.

“We do a lot of events for people that want to have parties,” said Mr. Celeste. A bonus for the party giver: “We can pull away and they don’t have any messes.”

In the past few weeks, Coach’s Corner catered for teachers at all six schools in the South Glens Falls Central School District.

“I get a lot of customers that are diehards,” Mr. Celeste says. He said he has some who carried over from the diner, and new ones via the food truck.

“The Away Game” is a new addition to the logo, since the truck — unlike the old diner — is always on the move. Chronicle photo/Natalie Barden

“We’re grateful to our customers. They continue to support us, no matter what the weather is. I always try to give them their money’s worth.”

Mr. Celeste retired in 2010 after 26 years as a New York State Correction Officer. He spent the same amount of time coaching softball and basketball for South Glens Falls and SUNY Adirondack (putting the “Coach” in “Coach’s Corner”). Now, he’s taking a step back from coaching.

“I’m focusing on the food truck, my grandkids, my golf game and bowling,” he laughed. “Life’s been good to me so far. I don’t take anything for granted.”

For updates on the truck’s location, visit Coach’s Corner on Facebook or call 742-0798.

Copyright © 2021 Lone Oak Publishing Co., Inc. All Rights Reserved

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