John Savage was an apprentice builder who worked under Stan Taylor. In 1989, John helped Stan was carry out alterations to Jim's Cafe flat for Alma Sedgewick. To keep up her lavish lifestyle, Alma had sold her house and was planning to move into the flat and work at Jim's Cafe, saving herself a wage by sacking Phyllis Pearce.

Due to the limited flat access, the builders had to carry materials through the cafe. As he did so, John got chatting with young waitress Christine Carter, inadvertently letting the cat out of the bag by telling Christine what the builders were doing in the flat. Thus far, the staff (except Gail Tilsley) had been kept in the dark as Alma didn't want to risk the news getting back to her ex-husband Jim Sedgewick as he would stop his mortgage payments. John's chat with Christine was cut short when Stan reprimanded him for skiving and sent him out to the van, but he managed to find a quick moment later where Christine agreed to go out with him the next day.