Margaux's Table closes for lunch to focus on catering

As the sole employee of Margaux's Table in White Bear Lake, chef-owner Margaret Doran served delicious, simple lunches out of a kitchen so small that it felt as if you were a guest in her home. But a recent unexpected utility expense--the so-called "sack and whack"--forced Doran to stop meal service. The Hot Dish touched base with her to find out more details.

Doran, who had been trying to keep her overhead down, was recently hit with a SAC charge, or Sewer Availability Charge, of $8,000--a cost her small operation simply couldn't afford to absorb. The SAC is a one-time fee imposed by the Met Council when a new water/sewer connection is added or increases capacity.

Although the space she rents had been used for food service (catering, etc.) for years and years, Doran says, regulators considered her retail lunches to be a full-service restaurant and the "change of use" triggered the assessment. "People call it the Whack and Sack because it sacks you," she jokes.

Though disappointed, Doran is taking the news in stride and has decided to see the lunch shutdown as an opportunity to expand the other parts of her business, including catering and teaching cooking classes. She plans to focus more energy on doing wedding cakes, box lunches for corporate events, private parties in homes, and even possibly working on a cookbook.

For Valentine's Day, for example, she plans to make a bunch of chocolate desserts and full meals for pre-order and is looking into offering dinner service at St. Paul's 490 Summit event space.

Doran says that one of her regular customers started crying when she heard the news, but that, while she will miss the lunches, she won't miss the stress. "I'm getting zoned from trying to do it all," she says. News of the SAC charge had been looming for some time, so after the decision had been finalized, Doran could finally relax. "I slept really well last night, so I guess that's a good thing," she says.

MARGAUX'S TABLE 4746 Washington Square, White Bear Lake 651.387.7903

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