After cancer treatment, former Kettering restaurant owner re-focuses on what’s most important

‘I’m in a good place now,’ Hawthorn Grill founder says after returning to her love of entertaining, recipes

After a tumultuous year that included a cancer diagnosis, surgery and significant career change, Candace Rinke is returning to her roots.

Rinke, who owned and operated Hawthorn Grill restaurant in Kettering for seven years until mid-2017, says she has re-focused her priorities on her family and on her love of cooking and entertaining following a stint as a Realtor. A 2019 diagnosis of breast cancer, followed by a double mastectomy, was a driving force behind her decisions, Rinke said in an email to former Hawthorn Grill customers and friends.

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Those same customers and friends heard from Rinke in 2017, shortly after she made the gut-wrenching decision to shut down the Kettering restaurant she had founded seven years earlier as the Hawthorn Grill.

“For the last seven years, I have poured my heart and soul into this business, many times at the expense of my health, mental well-being, and family,” Rinke wrote at the time. “I have experienced great joy, sorrow, frustration, excitement and pride while cooking for you these last seven years, but alas, this chapter of my life must now come to a close.”

Rinke had spent years working in restaurants, starting in the Detroit area, then launching her own personal chef business out of her home after moving to the Dayton area in 2005, then founding Hawthorn Grill on East Stroop Road in 2010. After shutting down the restaurant, she obtained her Realtor’s license and joined a real estate agency in Miamisburg.

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But now Rinke is writing about food and recipes, with some life lessons and entertainment advice mixed in, on her web site and blog,

She revealed her diagnosis and career change in an entry entitled, "Cancer and Snow Days."

In it, Rinke recounts preparing and serving homemade hot cocoa, grilled ham and cheese sandwiches and freshly baked chocolate chip cookies to her 12-year-old son and two of his friends on a recent “snow day” from school.

Credit: Contributed

Credit: Contributed

That day was less than a  year after Rinke was diagnosed and undergone a double mastectomy with reconstruction.

“In all that time, real estate was the last thing on my mind,” Rinke wrote. “Food and entertaining my family were the things that kept my spirits up during those dark days. I decided that God and fate were showing me the way.”

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“Now I am here, sharing my love of cooking with you. But not just cooking. To me, it’s a complete package. The way the house feels, looks and smells when friends walk through the front door all work together to make every occasion special. That doesn’t always mean a meal that took hours to prepare. It could be as simple as a few slices of cheese laid out beautifully on a platter, next to store-bought meat, olives and crackers with glasses of cold wine to enjoy a spring evening.”

Credit: Contributed

Credit: Contributed

“If your guests are welcomed into open arms and a happy home, they will remember the good times you shared. My goal is to convey to you the things I’ve learned about hospitality over the years. Come along on this journey of food and fun. I hope it brings you as much joy as it does me. Here’s to living a beautiful life.”

In an interview, Rinke said, “I'm in a good place now, had awesome care and a great medical team, and I'm finally feeling back to normal —whatever THAT is!”

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“I feel blessed to hear from former guests and friends of The Hawthorn Grill. Many of them have reached out to me with well-wishes and compliments on my blog. I feel like I've come full circle since the day I opened the door to my restaurant. I learned so much, gained and lost so much, took some time to heal (emotionally, physically AND mentally), left for a while, and now I feel excited to be getting back to food and sharing my recipes and love of entertaining with the world.”

Rinke said she will do some consulting but will not be doing catering at this point.

“Parties happen at night and on the weekends, and that is precisely when I want to be with my own family,” she said. “I am available for consulting, but I haven't ironed out any details yet. I'm considering hosting some underground dinners and/or cooking classes at my house, perhaps once or twice a month, for old friends.”

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