Pans on Fire opens larger store in Hopyard Village Shopping Center | June 29, 2012 | Pleasanton Weekly | |

Pleasanton Weekly

- June 29, 2012

Pans on Fire opens larger store in Hopyard Village Shopping Center

Popular business, cooking classes outgrew downtown space

by Jeb Bing

Linda Wyner has moved her popular Pans on Fire store on Main Street to more spacious quarters in the Hopyard Village Shopping Center at Valley Avenue and Hopyard Road.

In opening day ceremonies Tuesday sponsored by the Pleasanton Chamber of Commerce, Wyner said the new store at 3059-JK Hopyard Road has an expanded food studio for public and private classes as well as considerably more display space for products that range from a 79-cent citrus peeler to a Swiss Diamond skillet with the coating of manocomposite that holds its non-stick properties even at the hottest temperatures.

Other features include drop-in knife sharpening and knife repair on Saturdays, "Dad and Me" cooking classes for families that want to expand their cooking capabilities together, and specialized tutoring classes in what Wyner calls her summer camps.

Wyner is not your typical pots, pans and kitchen tutoring entrepreneur. A college degreed food anthropologist (UCLA), she was a business entrepreneur long before coming to Pleasanton where she opened Pans on Fire five years ago. After graduating from the University of San Francisco with a law degree, she became a nationally known litigation lawyer and a malpractice specialist.

So how did an anthropologist skilled at finding "cuisine" artifacts in the desert move to a store at 310-B Main St., and now to a larger establishment in the Hopyard Village Shopping Center, where her cuisine recipes and desserts have won top honors from hundreds who are her customers and cooking class students?

The transition actually started in the hot desert temperatures when Wyner said she'd had enough and moved to friendlier, more comfortable and less back-breaking duties. As a jobs program coordinator for the U.S. Department of Labor, and with a master's degree in Manpower Administration, she started a business "incubator" where those she had been helping to start their careers could have offices and the tools and consultation they needed to succeed. Based in Denver and with three business centers and 130 "suites" as her clients, she accepted an offer she just couldn't refuse and, still in her 30s, opted for an early retirement.

That's when law school and Wyner's interest in serving the legal needs of those in business came together. Besides cooking and always trying new recipes at home with her husband Larry, a college professor, she majored in the legal aspects of preparing wills, trusts and estate planning while also serving as editor in chief of the law journal at USF. It was her writing skills that brought another career change when she was asked to write a food column for a local newspaper. Her inner-self as an excited, inquisitive food specialist got the best of her, leading to her purchase of the old Ruma's store in Pleasanton in November 2006, where her Pleasanton accomplishments began.

Besides her cooking camps and "Dad and Me" classes, Wyner and her staff also offer "Knife's Skills" and Italian regional cooking classes, with "Thanksgiving 101" one of her most popular classes where "graduates" leave with the skills to prepare a full-course Thanksgiving dinner -- turkey, dressing, sides and all -- in just three hours.

Sign-ups for those classes, which are always filled, will start after all of the summer camps have ended, Wyner said.


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