Business Beat: No more fun gadgets from the Dented Chef in Modesto

04/05/2014 8:29 PM

04/07/2014 11:37 AM

Well, rats. I found out last week that one of my favorite downtown businesses is closing.

Judi Rackley, owner of the Dented Chef, is hanging up her apron, so to speak, after 17 years, as she and husband Larry plan to retire.

As many home cooks and restaurant owners are well aware, the Dented Chef sells both kitchen goods and restaurant supplies. The mix has been a good one, Rackley said, with business staying strong even during the Great Recession.

“We hit it right, opening in 1997,” she said. “Downtown was just growing, with all these little restaurants going in.” Those restaurants needed saucepans, glassware and the like, and the Dented Chef offered it. At the same time, enthusiasm for cooking at home took off, and the store attracted folks from all over the area and beyond, looking for the newest gadget or supplies to make everything from souffles to pasta.

“Memorial Day and the Fourth of July were really busy periods for us,” Rackley said. “That’s when people really start entertaining at home more.”

Rackley never intended to stick around this long.

“When I opened the store, I said, ‘I’m doing this for 10 years, and that’s it,’ ” she said. She and Larry kept at it longer than planned because they enjoyed the business so much.

“I’m a real people person,” she said. “That’s what keeps you here.”

The store was a great place for me to turn when looking for items for the Bee’s annual stocking stuffer feature. In fact, I still owe my mom a Chop-Stir from last Christmas. Rackley was out of them when I stopped by last week, but don’t worry, Mom, they’re on order.

Although there are signs in the window saying the store is closing, the Dented Chef will be around for a while longer. Rackley said she is still filling orders for the next month, and will be around for several weeks after that. “Our lease is up in July,” she said.

Already, word is getting around. The shop was hopping during my visit. One man came in and said, “But this is my favorite store in town.”


Elsewhere around the Business Beat:

Yet another use for your smartphone: Pay your water water bill.

The city of Modesto announced last week it has partnered with Check, a mobile bill payment company, to provide its customers with another way to pay for water service. Check’s mobile app is free to download, and a customer service representative said there is no charge to use it.

“We are very pleased to offer more convenience to our valued customers,” customer services manager Leslie Curtin said in a news release. “Mobile apps are an increasingly popular method to complete tasks, and we are always looking for new ways to innovate and benefit from improved technology. Check is an easy, convenient way for customers to take care of their bills.”

If apps aren’t your thing, you can still pay via check, automatic payment, credit card by phone, online or through the mail.

For more information, call (209) 577-5395.

And finally, come July the Stanislaus County Fairground will be transformed into a veritable city of hundreds of people before and during the Stanislaus County Fair. It takes a lot of work to put on a fair, and the majority of those jobs are seasonal. It’s a great opportunity for anyone to earn a little extra money, including high school and college students.

The fair will host a job fair April 24 at the fairground, 900 N. Broadway, Turlock. From 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., department supervisors will be on hand to take applications for positions including ticket sellers and takers, maintenance staff, office staff, exhibit clerks and security.

For more information, contact Apryl Dejarnett at (209) 668-1333, ext. 310, or email

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