Mary Lane is the owner of an ultra cute cafe called Mary Lane Cafe in San Gabriel California. Mary renovated an old drive through dairy creating a wonderful homey space. She serves breakfast and lunch. Everything is homemade. The decorum of Mary Lane is sweet with beautiful antique pieces filled with assorted gift items. She has a long community table and two patio areas with potted roses and flowers. She always has homemade pastries on the counter and features a variety of lattes that you won’t find anywhere. A few of the more popular ones are the rose latte and the lavender latte. The cafe has been open within the last year and it has become a local favorite.
Your inspiration: Where does it come from?
ML: My inspiration comes from anything vintage. Since I was a kid I was fascinated by items from the past. I would imagine who could have owned them and what purpose it served. With all the hustle and bustle of today, I have always longed for a simpler life. Since I couldn’t find a time machine, I built my own. When people walk through my doors, I want them to transport to a place and time where family and food are the cornerstones of life.
What cookbook that you own is the most worn and tattered? What page is earmarked?
ML: I actually have a little notebook that I have had since I was 16. I started writing recipes in it when I lived in Italy. The family I lived with had a private chef and she was happy to share recipes, tips, and tricks with me. I’ve continued to write in it through the years and right now I have my aunt Mimi’s fudge frosting recipe earmarked.
What smells in the kitchen get you the most fired up?
ML: When I get to the cafe in the morning, Martin is already cooking the breakfast potatoes. We cook them with green onion and I can smell them from the parking lot. Every morning, as tired as I am and thoughts of giving up run through my mind. I smell those potatoes and this immense feeling of pride that that amazing smell is coming from my restaurant wakes me up and motivates me.
How do you take your coffee? Favorite places for coffee?
ML: Iced Breve (half and half) latte with agave and cinnamon. Before opening, I went to Starbucks for coffee, but I dreamt of finding a cozy little place that felt like I was drinking coffee on my front porch. Since I couldn’t find it, I had to open it myself 🙂
What are you reading right now for fun?
ML: I always feel guilty or somehow inferior when my friends talk about the books they are reading. I always say “I don’t read” or “I need to read more” but I do read ALOT…Just not “books”. I read cookbooks, blogs, I love history and biographies, mostly online. I love magazines too. I’m currently working my way through the Brass Sisters Heirloom Baking and Heirloom Cooking books. I love the stories and the history of all the recipes.
What irritates you the most?
ML: Laziness… there is really no excuse to not accomplish anything you want. If I can pursue my dreams anyone can. I’ve had to jump many many hurdles. So it really irks me when I see completely able bodied people sitting around and then complaining about what’s been handed to them.
What is your favorite pair of work shoes.
ML: I’m a flip flop girl. I wear flip flops in any weather, but can’t do that in a restaurant, so I had to go out and buy real shoes. I can’t tell you how many pairs I went through. Shoes advertised as restaurant shoes killed my feet. So now I wear running shoes.
Ideal day off?
ML: Having absolutely nothing to do or worry about. I don’t expect that anytime soon.
What is something new you are creating in the kitchen right now?
ML: I’m always experimenting with baking. Cooking is easy for me, baking is such a science. I always make a mess and get so disappointed when a recipe fails. But when it goes right, it’s magical!
What is the hardest part of owning your own business?
ML: Having to do it all. Open, close, cook, clean, shop, pay bills…I do have some help, now that we are getting busier, but my day never really ends. There is always something to do.
What is the most rewarding?
ML: Definitely being able to have my children with me. My daughters work here on weekends and my son is here whenever he is not in school. Everyday is bring your kid to work day. It’s so amazing having them here even when I have to clear Legos off a table for customers. We had a rough past few years so to see the joy and pride this place brings to my kids makes the struggle worth it.