If you think that the recipe for Chili John's chili that is tucked away in your recipe file is for real, you're wrong. The authentic recipe is still a secret. The formula is the creation of John Issac, a Lithuanian who came to the United States in 1879. John opened a restaurant in 1913 bearing a sign reading only "Chili". This restaurant was located at the foot of the Main St. bridge. Fans of his recipe soon began calling him "Chili John", and the name of the restaurant was born. Over the past 80 years, the recipe has never varied. Chili John's Restaurant features mild, medium, hot, or extra-hot chili. A bowl of chili includes portions of beans and/or spaghetti, and our spicy meat. Each bowl is prepared as you like it. Chili John's chili is popular year-round; four generations of customers will attest to that fact. Mrs. Spofford summed it up best, saying, "When you're hungry for chili, there's just no substitute for Chili John's."
"Chili John's" restaurant became more popular as time went on. Selling his specialty..."chili", to people who were brought up thinking "chili" meant CHILLY took persistance, passion for his craft and pride in his business. Many times people would ask "...why do it that way: you're too independent". He would answer, "Wouldn't you like to be this way too!" John would work nights, late, many of them alone. He would take customer orders, make and serve them their food. John also cleaned up after them. At this time he would serve plate crackers, 4"x 4" saltines. To put them into your bowl of chili you'd break or crush them, making a mess. To make life easier, John talked to a particular customer about making crackers that fit on a teaspoon. That customer was a salesman from Nabisco Foods, the product became a type of cracker many take for granted today...the Dainty Oyster cracker. As his restaurant's popularity, grew John moved to larger and larger quarters. Chili John's Restaurant occupied 3 successive locations on Main St. His restaurant, in the 300 block of Main St., boasting the largest counter in town. He'd make his famous chili once every two weeks. He's been remembered as saying,"...just think if we could make chili once a week...!' John's chili has survived two world wars, one world wide depression, the cold war (and how many presidents?)...John Issac died in 1947, just before his restaurant moved to 224 Pine St.; between Washington and Adams Streets. He was survived by his wife, one son and six daughters.
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