The man behind the town

He started out waiting tables. Today he owns several businesses and apartments in the Castleton area – including restaurants, although he no longer waits tables. John Rehlen bought what is now the Castleton Village Store in 1973. The store dates back to the 1890’s, though the original building has burned down and since been replaced.

“I love what I’m doing,” said Rehlen in a recent interview.

In addition to the Village Store, Rehlen owns the Castleton Pizza Place & Deli, Birdseye Diner, Castleton Laundromat, and Blue Cat, a new restaurant in back of the pizza place that just opened earlier this year.

Rehlen was born in Long Island and went to school at Middlebury College where he met his wife, Pam. Pam’s family was from Castleton and the couple soon moved into the area.

Together John and Pam have four children, including three daughters and one son, Wenger, who is involved with the day-to-day operations of his father’s businesses.

“I want to continue to work and have no plans for retiring,” said Rehlen.

However, when the time comes, Rehlen does hope that Wenger can take over the family business.

There are roughly 20 Castleton students currently working for Rehlen at his various businesses.

“He’s a great guy to work for,” said Nathan Long, an employee at the Castleton Village Store for the past year. Long added that he would “most definitely” recommend his job for students in the area.

In addition to running his businesses, Rehlen is involved with Vermont Land Trust, which deals with conserving land and keeping farmland from being subdivided.

He has been on the organization’s board for the past eight years and believes the Vermont Land Trust helps Vermont stay the way it is.

Between running his businesses and apartments, as well as serving on that board, there isn’t much free time for Rehlen.

“John’s always ridiculously busy,” said Long.

However, when Rehlen does find some spare time he said he enjoys swimming, rowing, and gardening.

“Most importantly I enjoy spending time with my wife,” said Rehlen through a glowing smile.

According to Rehlen, there are no current plans for future projects as he focuses on working out the kinks at the new Blue Cat restaurant before looking ahead.

In addition to his family and his businesses, Rehlen cares about his religious faith. He attends church regularly and even serves as the moderator at the Federated Church of Castleton.

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