Pepper Maggies and the birth of Catering By Design


In the late summer of 1993 my mother and I opened Pepper Maggies. 100% family operated, our vision was a Mexican restaurant that would not only feature the full spectrum of familiar and classic, home-inspired Mexican food, but also feature our takes on popular Latin American dishes from all over the world. We churned out as many taco and enchilada combos as we did Paella Valencianas and Lechon Asados and many customers told me we had the best fajitas in the whole Coachella Valley! At that time owning my own restaurant was the culmination of a lifelong dream for my mother and I after decades of working every imaginable job in the service industry: hosting, waiting tables, bartending and managing other people’s restaurants.

My mother is still the best cook I’ve ever known and many of the dishes we grew up eating in Tijuana and Vera Cruz; albondiga soup, chiles rellenos, chicken mole and green corn tamales; were no brainers that we enthusiastically incorporated into the Pepper Maggies menu (and would later be featured in catering menus for Catering By Design).

That first summer was tough and if it wasn’t for the help of my family, who worked tirelessly bussing tables, serving and prepping meals in the kitchen (for sometimes little pay), we would never have made it. There were days I’d work 14 hours in one stretch, in the office processing credit card receipts, behind the bar mixing Cadillac margaritas, the dining room floor greeting customers and even jumping behind the line when a cook called in sick. It was brutal work but I loved every minute of it.

It took a couple years to get Pepper Maggies off the ground but by the fall of 1995 we were thriving, doing sometimes 400 dinners a night. Our Champagne Sunday Brunch had become an institution for many of the residents of Sun City, Palm Desert Country Club and Bermuda Dunes locals and we were getting featured in Palm Springs Life Magazine and the Desert Sun as one of the top new restaurants in the Coachella Valley. It was the hardest my mother and I have ever worked but also one of the most thrilling experiences of my life.

Alas, all good things must come to an end. After keeping our doors open for over 10 years Pepper Maggies served its last Sunday Brunch on Mother’s Day of 2002. It was bittersweet to say the least. The everyday strain of operating a restaurant as large as Pepper Maggies was getting to be overwhelming and I wanted to have more time to spend with my family. It was a decision I don’t regret because it helped shape who I am today and shape what is today Catering By Design.

To this day Pepper Maggies continues to be one of the proudest achievements of my life. We provided jobs and support to many families through the years, often employing multiple generations of family members on the floor and in the kitchen. The first official job for many of my nieces and nephews was bussing or waiting tables at Pepper Maggies. Many of them worked their way through college earning tips there and went on to earn degrees, have successful careers and start their own families. I made countless friends and contacts and learned a lifetime of knowledge in those 10+ years owning my own business and it was because of that experience and those relationships that I was able to build Catering By Design.

Many of the same employees of Pepper Maggies I bring with me to Catering By Design. In fact my mother still helps prepare many of the wonderful and diverse dishes for our caterings. The same care and pride that went into crafting those green corn tamales goes into every dish we make today at Catering By Design. We KNOW Mexican food but today we go well beyond Latin American fare in planning your events and our repertoire of global cuisine is wide and eclectic, as you can see from some of the sample menus featured and dishes in our photo gallery. Planning parties is something I would do even if I wasn’t getting paid for it, just ask my sisters and relatives, LOL. It is my passion and I would love nothing more than to help you plan your next event, making it memorable and wonderful for not only you but all of your guests.

 

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