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CK’s Tavern & Grill former co-owner Kendra Flaum Pieratt was flanked by Kelsi Sperry, left, and Valerie Wood after winning a number of Best of Ahwatukee awards in 2019. 

 

Sometimes you just know when it’s the right time.

For Kendra Flaum Pieratt, that was

Nov. 2, when she quietly sold her popular CK’s Tavern & Grill, which she co-owned with her brother Chad Flaum for 17-1/2 years.

A month passed before word of the sale got out to the community.

And that’s precisely the way Pieratt wanted it.

“I just did it on the downlow because I know how loyal people are to me and CK’s and I didn’t want them to know there was a change in owners,” she said. “I just wanted people to give the new owners, Ken Matharu and Indy Singh, a chance.”

Leaving the restaurant business, where she’d been a hands-on owner/operator since 2003 was hard, she agreed, but over all, she thought it was best for the family-friendly and community gathering spot located at 4142 E. Chandler Blvd.

“No matter how badly I wanted to say goodbye, I wanted people to just come in and see everything was the same,” she explained. “You can walk in now and never know it was under new owners.”

“I still come into CK’s to consult but the owners are on site daily, too,” she said. 

Rumors were rife and conjecture rampant. 

“No, my breast cancer hasn’t returned. We’re not moving. It was just a good time for me to focus on my family,” said Pieratt, a breast cancer survivor. “I have a son, 13, who plays club basketball, a 12-year-old daughter who is president of her student council and plays club volleyball and I really want to be able to spend time with them before they reach high school.”

“As president and CEO of Vermeer Southwest, my husband Kyle travels a lot for his business, and that’s another good reason I want to be with my kids,” she said.

“And I don’t think I’ve shut my phone off in 17-and-a-half years,” she laughed. “It was just time to slow down.” 

The last three years had been especially tough on Flaum personally and  the business.

“In 2018 I was diagnosed with breast cancer, in 2018 and 2019 I had four surgeries and, of course, we all know what happened in 2020,” she said. “Those were some tough years.”

The Flaum family purchased the former Bar Nun in 2004 at 4142 E. Chandler Blvd, renaming it CK’s Tavern & Grill, using the initials of the two children of Jim (Papa) and Joanne Flaum. 

Chad Flaum, who runs the family’s Old Town Tortilla Factory in Scottsdale, recalled how the family recruited Kendra from Intel to join the restaurant.

“Our whole family stayed involved with CK’s but Kendra was the face of CK’s. I call her the mayor of Ahwatukee,” he said.

Jim Flaum, a 2000 retiree from his executive role with the McDonald’s corporation and now living with his wife in Prescott, said three years ago that the four family members had “the desire to be the best at what we do and always try to step up the level on food service and community involvement”.

That family work ethic has always been a guiding light for Kendra and at CK’s showed in her day-to-day activities and in her strong commitment to the community.

“I love CK’s. It was my family’s concept. I love the staff, I love the customers, I love the feel, I love everything about it,” Pierett confessed. 

Two community activities she initiated during her tenure remain on the calendar. Presently, the annual Holiday Wish Tree is in place at the eatery and this year benefits Childhelp and the Arizona Association for Foster and Adoptive Parents (AZAFAP).

CK’s annual Charity Golf Tournament their 10th as 2020’s was another pandemic casualty will tee off May 21, and again benefits the Breast Cancer Research Foundation.

Pieratt is proud that the new owners are continuing her practice of promoting from within.

“They had to hire more people, but they moved everyone up,” she said. “Krista Didion is the new GM (general manager), basically replacing me.”

Didion is a well-known face at CK’s, having joined the crew 11 years ago.

“I started as a server after I quit my full-time job to stay home and raise my kids. As my kids got older I started to take on more roles which has led me to where I am today,” she said.

“To say Kendra was an amazing boss would be an understatement. She was never just my boss, she is one of my closest friends, and now my mentor,” said Didion, who lives in Tempe with her husband Brent and their three children.

“Learning about Kendra leaving CK’s was a rollercoaster of emotions. I’m extremely sad that she chose to sell CK’s  but am so excited for her and her family as they start this new chapter,” said Didion.

“I plan to do my best to uphold her legacy and keep CK’s the same place we have all come to know and love. Not seeing her every day at work has definitely been an adjustment but part of our agreement was that she has to keep our annual breakfast dates, and I plan on holding her to that,” she said.

What are Kendra’s future plans?

“Everybody asks me that,” she laughed. “I don’t have an answer yet. I’m really looking forward to being involved more with my kids, enjoying some downtime and being healthy.”

“My husband knows me well and he said it won’t be long before I find something to be involved with, but we’ll see. I know I’ll help with the golf tournament this May, that’s important to me.”

She said she’s looking to return to CK’s in a different role.

“First, I need a little time to unplug, and then I’ll come in as a customer and relax,” she smiled. 

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