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Obituary for Jon Payne Zachadnyk

Jon Payne  Zachadnyk
Jon P. “Zack” Zachadnyk

Burlington/Montgomery Center

Jon Payne “Zack” Zachadnyk, age 86, passed away on Tuesday, October 4, 2011 at Converse Home in Burlington. Zack was born in Blackstone, MA on August 7, 1925 son of the late Alex and Mary Maliniak Zachadnyk. He was a graduate from the Blackstone High School and a graduate at Hill’s Business College in Woonsocket, RI.

He was in the Korean War in the 5th Infantry Division. After his duty in the army, he attended the Culinary Institute of America, in New Haven, CT. His first job was in Marco Island, FL where he received his first culinary award. He worked at the Tyler Place in Highgate, VT for two years. He decided to buy land and have his own restaurant, in Montgomery Center and that was the beginning at “Zack’s On The Rocks”, which he ran for 30 years. He’s made many people happy and many friends that will never forget the experience. He had coined the name “Monkey Center” and put this small northern Vermont town on the map because of his restaurant. “Zack’s” was known by account executives and bon vivants world wide. He received many accolades from all over the country and Canada. His flair for the dramatic transformed his dining room into the stage he used to provide his guests with his own unique magical dining experience. The high vaulted ceiling was the perfect complement to the gold gilt accents, silver candelabras and royal purple charger plates of the elegant and formal table settings.

In fact, Zack preserved the tradition of elegant dining when the rest of the world was going casual. He demanded that backwoods hippy drop-outs and fun-seeking cityfolk alike “dress” for dinner at the height of an era when dressing up meant putting on a clean pair of jeans. Men had to wear ties and jackets and women were frowned at if they dared to show up in anything as tasteless as a pants suit. For those out-of-towners who wished to indulge in their own On The Rocks experience, Zack arranged for limousines or small buses to assure their safe passage home.

Zack served up a “happening” experience as well as classical French cuisine always sporting his signature purple jeweled caftan. He also drove a purple MG.

Zack loved “Monkey Center” and gave back to the community in his signature “MY way” by throwing two annual events. Each year on Valentine’s Day, he opened his restaurant to all the elementary students using his culinary talents to prepare a lunch made from school commodities in ways the kids had never before experienced. And each year he welcomed The Meals On Wheels diners to a luncheon at On The Rocks. He funded and oversaw the renovations of The Grange, helping to pay for it by resurrecting local “Guest Chef” nights, a town tradition that had lain dormant for years. In addition, he was the secret angel who paid the electric bill to keep the small Baptist Church warm in winter for its tiny congregation.

Zack knew what was needed to promote and market a business. As a keen entrepreneur, he founded the Montgomery Business Association in the 1960’s and oversaw its regular meetings through the 70’s.

Being a forward thinker, Zack branded the word Rock before branding a word was THE marketing strategy. True to his love and identity with the word whether it was used Before the Rocks (the cottage he built and rented on his property) On The Rocks (the restaurant) or After the Rocks (both the bar he added to the restaurant and his residency in retirement), Zack’s final resting stone is a ROCK on the hillside in the Montgomery Center Cemetery. On December 19, 1999, the Montgomery Historical Society presented him a life time membership in honor of his dedication, care and loyalty to the Town of Montgomery

Following retirement Zack, opened a After the Rocks 5 course dining experience, as a fund raiser, at the Unity Church of Vermont in Essex Jct., which was held once per month. After awhile he had to retire again, but loved every minute of it while he could do it.

Zach was also honored by having been selected as an honored member of Who’s Who in U.S. Executives for 1990 by the membership committee, by the Vermont Lodging and Restaurant Association 1991 Restaurateur of the year and also in 1998 a plaque for pioneer of the industry.

Zack leaves his: Nieces Mrs. Mary Lefebere and husband Leo; Francis Lulu; Grand Nieces and Nephews: Melissa and Steven Lefebere; Lisa Mark and Rachel Mark all of Huntington Beach, California. Cousins of Smithfield, RI Olga Despres and Jackson & Nanci Despres; Irene Rae of Mansville RI; Susan Zachadnyk; Ged and Helen Zachadnyk of Cumberland, RI; Carol and Frank Parres of Cranston, RI ; and his loving companion and soul mate Lucille Morin of Williston, VT.

A special thanks goes to the loving and caring staff of The Converse Home and VNA Home Health and Hospice for their personal and heartfelt attention to Zack.

There will be no public visiting hours. In Zack’s memory everyone is requested to wear something purple to the memorial service to be held at Unity Church of Vermont, 56 Main St., Essex Jct., VT at 2:00 p.m. on Saturday October 8, 2011 with the Reverend Lane Williams officiating. Inurnment will be private and at the convenience of the family in the family lot in Montgomery Center Cemetery. Memorial contributions in Zack’s memory may be made to the Montgomery Historical Society, P.O. Box 356, Montgomery Center, VT 05471 or Montgomery Food Bank, 20 Fuller Bridge Road, Montgomery, VT 05470. Arrangements are by John D. Workman, A. W. Rich Funeral Home – Essex Chapel, 57 Main St. Essex Jct., VT 05452. The family invites you to share your memories of Zack or your experience at “On The Rocks” by visiting

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