In 2019, Laura Doyle stands strong as she fights to make Marie Callender’s rise again. Laura, the owner of the Fountain Valley branch, has worked at Marie Callender’s for 36-years. She walked into the Fountain Valley Marie Callender’s as a teenager and applied for a job. “So I started as a hostess and then I worked my way up through the restaurant,” Doyle said recalling her path up the ladder.
“I saw the opportunity when the owner of this franchise was looking to retire, so I took that opportunity to see if I could purchase the franchise.” Doyle has experienced the learning curve as she has taken over the ownership of this Marie Callender’s. She has experienced every job that was possible to have at this business: she has served, been a bartender, done bookkeeping, managing and now owns this establishment.
Marie Callender’s, the parent company, has gone through hard times recently. The company has declared bankruptcy twice over the last decade, including this year. Marie Callender’s closed off 29 stores across the country, thus putting much of the company’s future in jeopardy.
Doyle knows about the parent company’s struggles and has realized that it might be an uphill climb to persuade the clientele they were not going anywhere. “The best way I can convince them is that we’re privately owned,” said Doyle highlighting the differences between a corporate-run Marie Callender’s and an independent restaurant.
Doyle knows that to survive, she has to stay aware and listen to what customers want in their services. “Listening to your customers is huge,” she added. “They’re your whole basis for everything. Marie Callender’s is typically a 50 and over clientele and then the secondary would be young families.” Doyle wants to capture a new demographic for customers, while keeping her usual clientele happy. The challenge in her opinion is to get new people hooked on the food and encourage them to return to the restaurant.
Doyle showed that she is planning to do some renovations down the line with her restaurant. She highlighted that despite the homey feel being comfortable, she would like to take it to new heights. “I’d like to see us get into a market we have never gotten into before,” said Doyle. “That would be delivery service. My main goal is to get us hooked up with all the delivery services.” This Marie Callender’s in Fountain Valley continues to evolve and adapt with the times.
There are also plans for construction of a new outdoor patio with seating in the works, set for 2020. She stated that she would like to increase breakfast activity in her eatery. But one thing that never changed: the strengths of Marie Callender’s. “Our pies,” Doyle said showcasing the pies on display. “No one does pies like us.”As Doyle continues to work to make her Marie Callender’s restaurant the best bistro it could be, she has some words of advice for independent business owners.
Doyle highlighted that the customers are important to success and failure of a business.“The customer is your work so they have to be top priority so you should be absolutely going and touching all the tables and getting to know your customer base,” she said. “I’ve been spending a lot of time with breakfast getting to know our breakfast customers, asking how they heard about our breakfast and listening to their ideas.
As she prepares to enter Marie Callender’s into the next era, she recounts the reasons why she wanted to purchase this restaurant and preserve it. “I think because it’s where I started and it’s my home,” she recounted. “I couldn’t bear to drive by this place that I go to everyday for 36 years and not see it here,” Doyle said.
Check out Marie Callender’s brunch and wine wednesdays! Located at: 18889 Brookhurst St, Fountain Valley, CA 92708 // 714-963-6791
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