Good Food, Good Deeds Served All Day at Marguerite's Cafe
Marguerite Allison provides more than a good meal at her Dunedin restaurant and catering business. She serves up heaping helping of support for people rebuilding their lives.
Marguerite Allison is known for her caring, but straight-forward, no-nonsense approach to life.
It's become the hallmark of how Allison runs Marguerite’s Cafe & Catering and how she has come to embrace her employees. She seems perfectly equipped for what has become a calling: helping people touched by alcohol or drug addiction to rebuild clean, sober lives. Allison mixes a structured and supportive working environment with a pinch of tough love. It's a combination in which her employees thrive.
“It’s not something I advertise, but yes God sends me people,” Allison humbly reveals.
Allison knows from experience that to be successful you have to work hard. The single mother who raised six kids, including three step children and one foster daughter, is not the type of woman to wait for good things to be given to her. She pursues what she wants and makes it happen.
“I tell (my employees) no one is going to hand it to you,” she explains.
Allison first opened her deli on Patricia Avenue in 1986, but she knew she needed a new location when the housing market shifted and Nielsen Company began downsizing its Dunedin offices. Seasoning her tenacity with patience and restraint, she spent 10 years looking for the perfect spot.
She finally found the grand oak tree on the property in Liberty Square near Dunedin Public Library, but her struggle was just beginning. Even with a well-established deli, the business couldn’t qualify for a Small Business Association loan. Allison told the loan officer that she was going to see him every day until he told her what she needed to do to guarantee her loan.
She got it.
“Customer service is a lost art,” she says, “and I tell my employees, I don’t pay you, the customers enable me to pay you.”
This attention to the customer is what has kept her in business. When the market crashed in November 2008, Marguerite’s Café felt the effects immediately.
“We usually cater corporate holiday events and the phones didn’t ring. I started calling clients suggesting alternatives to expensive holiday parties, like serving brunch,” Allison says. “Once you lose a customer one year, it is hard to get them back.”
“I was committed to not lay off a single employee. Everyone had to cut their hours back and sometimes I didn’t bring home a paycheck, but we made it thanks to the people of Dunedin,” she says.
Want to Go?
- Where: Marguerite's Cafe, 405 Plaza Drive
- Contact:727-734-7040, http://margueritescatering.com/
- Hours: Monday, 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Tuesday, 7:30 a.m. to 7 p.m.; Wednesday to Friday 7:30 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Saturday, 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.; Sunday, closed