By Christina Fuoco-Karasinski
Celine and Bill Dixon have been smitten with the Everybody Loves Fondue restaurant that they opened two years ago. Gilbert has, too.
“Who doesn’t love melted cheese and chocolate?” Bill asks rhetorically. “We do things like large soft pretzels dipped in cheese. You can’t go wrong with that. We have angel-food cake that you can dip in chocolate. You can’t mess that up.”
Fondue is in the couple’s blood. Bill indulged in Swiss fondue, dipping various vegetables, breads and meats in cheese, while living in Switzerland during a mission. As for Celine, she grew up on fondue in Nova Scotia.
“Bill lived in Switzerland for a year and a half,” she says. “That’s where he loved to make and love fondue. He speaks German and still tries to incorporate it daily with our daughters. Some of our customers speak German, so Bill speaks it with them.”
Food can be ordered a la carte or as complete meals. Meals include small cheese with bread, one dipper and drink, ($6.49); medium cheese with bread, two dippers and a drink, ($9.49) or large cheese with bread, pretzel, two dippers, meat and drink, ($18.99).
A la carte offerings include cooked meat ($2.99),; veggies ($1.49), and fruit ($1.49). Fondue choices are cheddar and swiss cheeses, peanut, and chocolates — white, milk and dark, courtesy of Ghirardelli. Phoenix Magazine recently gave the “best dessert” prize to Everybody Loves Fondue.
“We’re pretty proud of the Swiss fondue,” Celine says. “It’s very authentic, with traditional French bread, apples and fresh veggies. We have fun things like taquitos and pretzels and meat—ham, salami, chicken, etc. Customers love the strawberries, pound cake and house-made Rice Krispies treats.”
Savory offerings feature tortilla chips, pretzel bites, crackers, mini hard pretzels and potato chips. Sweet treats include graham crackers, Rice Krispies treats, angel-food cake, marshmallows, cream puffs, pound cake, Oreos, Vanilla Wafers, chocolate bars, sugar wafers and frosted animal cookies. For vegetables, diners can choose from broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, celery, jalapenos or pickles. Apples, bananas, pineapple and strawberries are available, as well.
The restaurant is untraditional, just like the owning couple. Celine was living in Canada when Bill approached her online via a dating site. They traveled to each other’s hometowns before Celine moved to Gilbert to marry Bill four years ago.
“I think I was ready to get married and move on and start a new chapter and begin an adventure,” she says. “It was a bittersweet move, though. I knew I would miss my job and life there.”
The Dixons didn’t have restaurant experience before opening the successful Everybody Loves Fondue, at Higley and Guadalupe roads. Celine’s background is in teaching physical education at a French school in Alberta. For 18 years, Bill worked for Empire Cat, which offers used machinery to clients across the United States and Mexico, as well as Caterpillar products.
“He’s the one with the guts,” he says. “He’s the one who’s brave and said, ‘Let’s just do it. Let’s make it happen.’ We’re creative and we make it work and we work together. He’s enjoyed it, too.”
The difference between working as a teacher and in a restaurant is thrilling.
“I do enjoy being my own boss, being creative and working with Bill,” says Celine, who describes herself as Canadian through and through. “It doesn’t feel like a job when I’m working with Bill. It’s fun to supply a venue where people are entertained, enjoying the food and they want to come back and tell their friends. It’s very rewarding.
“I’ve learned that I could do ‘scary’ things. Five years ago, thinking of opening a restaurant would seem so overwhelming and crazy. But you can do hard things. I could juggle so many things—meet deadlines, provide fondue to large parties. We can push ourselves and we can get out of our comfort zone.”
Celine also manages to run every day, care for her stepdaughters, 17-year-old Ryan and 15-year-old Sierra, and teach piano.
Bill sees Everybody Loves Fondue expanding nationwide. After all, Celine says, he’s “pretty ambitious.”
Celine and Bill call the whole concept their greatest achievement.
“Who would have thought that fondue could be fast in any way and be delicious and fun, and fun for the whole family? It works to serve fondue like we do: cheese, chocolate and the dippers. Everything is fresh. Oh my gosh, it’s so cool.”
Everybody Loves Fondue
Location: 3244 E. Guadalupe Road, Gilbert