The long-time St. John resident began his restaurant career handling food and beverage operations at the Westin Resort before Winston Burnett hired him to handle the front of the house at Paradiso while the iconic, beloved Ted Robinson was in the kitchen.
The pair worked together for five years, long enough to know they could do better together and so off they went to launch the late, beloved Tage. Now, Ted's back on his own, and Theleman has returned to Paradiso.
"I'm just a young guy (37), doing this on my own for the first time," Thelemen said. "I want to show people we're living up to what Paradiso used to be."
"We've got a brand new menu," he told The Inquiring Iguana. "We've gone back to what Paradiso was in its heydays, American Continental. Food layered with flavors, high quality, and an emphasis on locally-sourced ingredients."
Theleman is focusing on capturing the locals' business. "We're not going to compete with Asolare or Zozo's or Waterfront Bistro." While those restaurants are asking $38-$45 for main courses, no entree on the Paradiso menu will be more than $30.
And if you really want to save money, you can eat at the bar – where appetizers are half-price all night. The new owner says that discounting is really all about marketing. "People attract people. They like to see a busy place," and a packed bar gives that impression.
But the lower prices don't have to mean less style, dash, and dish. Theleman's imported Adam Raftry from Boston to head up the kitchen. "The first month we were here, we won Best Overall at Flavors of St John, so we're doing something right. Getting Raftry may have been easier than it seemed. Previously, he also worked at Tage as sous chef under Ted Robinson.
Among the items on the menu are Maple Vinaigrette Pork Tenderloin, fresh burritos with mozzarella and tomatoes, and lobster and shrimp corn dogs. "The food is excellent and the staff is excellent," Theleman said.
- Paradiso will soon have a web site at www.paradisostjohn.com. It will include menus, daily specials, and allow for online reservations. The restaurant is open seven days a week, for dinner only, 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Telephone 340-693-8899.