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Bad Apples features unique twists on good food
Successful bistro owned by local entrepreneur
Christopher Kisiel is passionate about his profession and his restaurant - so much so that he bears a tattoo of a fork, knife and spoon on his arm. Kisiel is the owner and chef of the uniquely named Spencerport restaurant Bad Apples Bistro.
Tucked away in a small plaza off Route 31 in Spencerport, Bad Apples Bistro offers anything but ordinary. The restaurant is small in space, it only seats 50 people, but the menu and service are top-notch. The selections are varied and unique and include items such as a beet and apple salad with freshly roasted and sautéed beets served with wilted spinach and a warm bacon vinaigrette; or green apple slaw; or the shrimp and chorizo mac and cheese (this is not your mother’s macaroni and cheese). Tiger shrimp are sautéed with sausage and tossed with penne pasta in a roasted poblano pepper cheddar sauce and topped with breadcrumbs, then baked for a twist on several levels of taste, texture and appearance.
These food fabrications are Kisiel’s own creations. He describes his offerings as upscale, comfort food with seasonal specialties featuring fresh fruits and vegetables. His inspiration comes from any and everywhere. “I love doing plays on classical dishes,” Kisiel explained.
Kisiel always knew that he wanted to open his own restaurant; he’s spent most of his life in this business. His father owned restaurants in Batavia, downtown Rochester and in Bushnell’s Basin. Kisiel describes his father as one of the most influential people in his life.
“As I was growing up, working in these restaurants was like learning a trade for me,” Kisiel explained. “When I opened, my father gave me the best advice that I’ve ever gotten, and one of the most important things he said to me was that once you own your own business, you will never work for anyone else ever again.”
Kisiel is a 1998 Spencerport High School graduate. After high school, he went on to college at the State University of New York at Delhi where he studied Culinary Arts. Two years later, he graduated in the top of his class. Upon graduation, he returned home to Spencerport and began working in downtown Rochester restaurants.
“After I graduated from college, the first place that I worked at was The Grill at Water Street. This work experience opened my eyes and showed me that the sky is the limit with what I could create and serve. I learned that cooking can be an art form,” Kisiel said.
His story continues as he worked at other fine dining restaurants in the Rochester area where he mastered his trade.
“As I worked at all of these different places, I learned what to do and what not to do in the restaurant businesses. I learned that you are never done learning, there are always new techniques and refinement,” he said. Throughout all of these experiences, he gathered his ideas, savings, and a passion to own his own bistro.
Kisiel researched potential sites and areas with intentions to open his own place. And surprisingly enough, he found that his hometown of Spencerport had potential to support the concept he wished to open, a refined, casual restaurant. He opened Bad Apples Bistro in September 2011.
“I knew it was time for me to make a move and open my own place. I found this spot but at first I did not think that this space would work. The kitchen was far too small. But my plan came together, it made absolute sense, and we’ve been in business for three years,” he said.
Owning your own business is risky, and complex, especially when it requires leases, insurance, licenses, and then add in start up costs like equipment, advertising, inventory, and space modifications, but Kisiel says he would not trade it for the world.
“You can never predict this business. I’ve looked for trends but all I know is that the summer will be hot and the winter will be cold,” he said with a laugh.
Besides its unpredictability, the restaurant business can be demanding and overwhelming.
“I work about 90 hours a week but this place is my home. It’s a lifestyle. My wife is so supportive. She works here every night as our hostess and also helps me with administrative responsibilities,” he explained. “If she didn’t help me, then I would not have a life, let alone a wife.”
Kisiel has high hopes for his business, looking long-term he would like to own real estate with the ultimate goal to find a freestanding building in Spencerport which is located on the Erie Canal.
“If the perfect spot became available, then I would definitely move and make it mine,” he explained. “But I’m not looking to own multiple locations. People come to Bad Apples Bistro because they know that I’m cooking their meals.”
Kisiel describes himself as person who expects quality in every sense of the word. Those who know him describe him as driven and dedicated. Bob Sperandio is one of Kisiel’s frequent patrons.
“Chris brought a concept to the west side that was missing. My wife and I visit his place about once a week and we appreciate that we don’t have to drive downtown to experience fine dining. His menu is varied, and well prepared. He truly is committed to quality, service and value,” Sperandio said.
Sperandio is an area entrepreneur himself, having founded Sporting Dog Specialities which grew into a major mail order company with local outlets.
So what’s in the name? Bad Apples Bistro comes from when he was a teenager.
“The name Bad Apples refers to my delinquent youth growing up in Spencerport. I was never really a fan of showing up to class. Many of my former teachers as well as my high school guidance counselor are frequent customers of the bistro. They call me, ‘the pride of the west side’,” Kisiel said with a laugh.