From the time Turu Marx was a young girl, her mother, Michelle Marx and she always talked owning their own restaurant and running it together. Today, their dreams have become a reality as they now own and operate Coquette Creperie in Manitou Springs. It has just won two honors from The Best Of The Springs 2010 from the Gazette; Best New Restaurant (silver) and Best Crepe!
They both had restaurant experience behind them in Los Angeles and New York, but their lives mostly took another path as they ventured into the entertainment industry. Michelle worked in entertainment pubic relations for the bulk of her life having been PR Director for A&M records before running her own successful firm for 25 years. Turu managed some of Los Angeles trendier eateries but then went on to travel as a singer with her band throughout the UK. The duo eventually came together to fulfill their desire of owning a restaurant together after Michelle purchased a building along Manitou Ave in Manitou Springs and Turu had returned stateside ready to settle into something different. Why a creperie? Turu fell in love with crepes in San Francisco, and then fell in love all over again when she experienced them in Paris, France. So, crepes it was!
Despite both of Turu’s management experience and Michelle’s being raised in ‘the kitchen’ of her father’s restaurant in New York, they knew they had some obstacles ahead of them in starting their business. They knew it was best to self finance the establishment as much as they could since loans weren’t plentiful for start-ups at this time. That didn’t make things easy. Starting a restaurant in a recession, during winter and in a summer intensive tourist town, they had a lot of factors working against them.
This is where the SBDC stepped in. “The counselor we met with helped us to fine tune our goals and gave us help in understanding the steps of the process and possibilities’’. Michelle and Turu did just that, and now have an exquisite 100% gluten free, international style menu in a warm, engaging cosmopolitan atmosphere. But don’t expect their dishes to taste anything less than spectacular because they’re gluten free. They spent months finding the perfect batter for their crepes and other alternatives for their entrées to ensure gluten free didn’t mean free of flavor, far from it. Because of their high demand, they now sell their flour as well.
Michelle admits that it is a lot of work and they find themselves exhausted by the end of the day, but the benefits make up for it. They’ve found the biggest reward is to see their customers buzzing and raving about their experience. It’s the positive reactions of customers that have literally brought them tears of joy. Another blessing is being able to work together as a mother/daughter team each day. Most family owned businesses end up sour but Michelle says that they are both working towards the same goals, have the same vision for the future and have excellently paired strengths. Any family issues are minor and non-disruptive.
They have seen strong support from the Manitou Springs community, news and radio, SBDC resources and their friends and family. Michelle and Turu are not ones to just settle and stay put. Their minds are geared towards expansion. They want to expand into more retail and merchandise; they’ve hired additional seasonal employees and maybe will even expand to locations in Denver or Boulder where they’ve been asked to open Coquette’s. Despite the hard times, Michelle and Turu have fought against the odds to create a successful and enjoyable dining experience for tourists and locals alike.