Raymond Anthony Johnson
Upon discovering five months ago that Teddywedgers was for up for sale last April, I've made a point to come in and say hi to Ray more often. Since becoming the owner of Myles Teddywedgers Cornish Pasty in 2009 (when original owner Myles passed away), Ray has seen a lot change on the isthmus over the years. Many faces come and go, but as long as I've known of the existence of this wonderful place; Ray has always been there. About a month has passed since Ray and I last talked, but turns out he has recently found a new owner for Teddywedgers. I can only imagine the amount of work required to sell a business, but I'm very thankful that the new owner is going to keep making pasty's.
This evening I caught myself snapping photos of the many signs hiding the interior view from any passerby, but was happy to see Ray come out (as I couldn't see in I didn't know he was there). Turns out Teddywedgers is getting a little bit of a remodel inside, with new floors being the main focal point. Ray allowed me to sneak a peak inside, it was almost more alien then I could have ever imagined. No longer an aroma of baking pies, but a stale musty smell lingered. All the appliances had been moved from the walls, and tiles were ripped off the floor. Ray closed the door one final time, latching it with a methodical clunking noise and this chapter in his life drawn to a close.
Fate plays in strange ways, but conversing with Ray I found that this was to be the last night he would close the doors. Tomorrow, he was meeting with the new owner to sign over Teddywedgers and give up his ownership. While it was a bit bittersweet, he told me that it was time; all good things must come to an end. In reality, Ray has worked non-stop seemingly to provide the delicious pies to many a tourist and Madisonion in his time. He has passed down the craft to the new owner, and will be sticking around in the basement (in case there are questions ) til at least the end of September. Then he hopes to move to Rockford for a little while, before returning to his roots in Chicago.
He expressed to me that 30 years ago, he would have never believed he would have had the opportunities that Madison brought him. Whether having the best front row seat for many Madison events over the years, a smile crept on his face when he told me how nice it was to take in Jazz @5 without any work to do. He even stated there were times he feared he'd never get out of Chicago, and now here we were talking of the next chapter. While Teddywedgers will be closed for a few weeks for the remodel work, it was the most happy thing to hear that he will be able to relax for a change.
I requested a photo of Ray in front of Teddywedgers, as normally he's hiding behind the scenes; today I make him a celebrity. A proud moment for me, as well as for Ray; to know that tomorrow is yet to be made.