bonappetitHAMDEN: The bad news was that Roland Blakeslee was closing the well-known cheese and specialty food store, Bon Appetit at 2979 Whitney Avenue that he ran with his wife, Annie, for 47 years.

Then the good news followed as a long time customer Gina Rossi Priest agreed to taking over the business.

Priest is not a foodie newbie, her experience began in the food, beverage industry with her first hospitality job as a “coat check girl,” at The Pavilion Restaurant in 1978. Priest eventually became one of that restaurants few female servers.

“That was my base. I learned more than I can say from Giuseppe, Pietro and Mario,” Priest said. “That knowledge carried me through all aspects of my career. I learned about true hard work and the importance of honest, sincere customer service.”

Priest worked in what she call some of the “most well-respected restaurants” in the state and later opened a pasta/gourmet/catering company in Glastonbury and another store and catering company. She left the trade to start in a new direction, accounting.

When the Bon Appetit opportunity arrived, it was a fit, “I wanted to go back to what I know best, where I was the happiest, and provide good people with good food. This is the center of life.”