Co-owner: Trish McDermott, 43 (with husband Marc LaJoie)
Tell me a bit about the background of The Arlington?
We opened five years ago. We live right across the street. I’d worked in advertising at The Gap for ten years, Marc was working in the medical industry up in Napa. We have three small kids, and we were like, “Why are we commuting so far?”
The opportunity came up to buy Shai’s (a former catering business). I knew Marc was at some point going to get into a cooking restaurant or a bed-and-breakfast kind of thing—it just seemed to be right there, so we did it.
We wanted to make this more of a café, community hub. Shai’s was pretty much a catering outfit—there wasn’t really much of a café here. We thought that would be more of a place where people would gather.
I feel like the neighborhood when we moved in was older. It’s definitely half and half now. There are a lot of families. The thing I think we see the most of is the community aspect—I love the band nights, and people coming here and hanging out. But the catering is definitely where the money is and that’s a great opportunity. We do stuff with the East Bay Parks, so we’re up at the Brazil Room, Temescal Beach House, Fern Cottage. We do weddings, bar mitzvahs, parties. And we do easy grab-and-go catering here, too, people can order trays and just take them out.
Are you two behind all of the recipes and everything? Yes. My husband does everything. He has a flair—he does everything from Indian to Mediterranean to Thai and Italian. He can just do an infusion—he’ll do a tapas bar one night when we do bands, or he’ll do a make-your-own-falafel falafel night, or Italian night.
At home, do you get bored? No (laughs). We end up eating here sometimes. And I’m the dish girl—he’s the cook and I’m the cleanup.
That’s how it works in my house sometimes, too. It’s a good partnership. I’m well-fed. I work hard. And I shop too, a lot. And the kids like it; they all go to (elementary school). They walk down here after school, get a snack and we go home. It's great. Before, we would be the first to drop the kids off at around 7:30 in the morning and the last to pick them up at 6. Now I drop them off in the morning, work, they come here at 2:30 and we go home and do homework. It’s a better life.
Is there anything else you'd like to add? We definitely want more people in here, we love having crowds. And don’t forget that we do catering and full-staffed parties at people’s houses. Like us on Facebook—I put all the information on the events and bands nights on there. We do movie nights—we do outdoor movie nights sometimes, I was doing a ladies night that I want to start up again. We would watch Valley Girls, Fast Times at Ridgemont High, fun old flicks. Just women coming over here, drinking a glass of wine and getting away from the kids. During the band nights in the summer, Frank, next door, the acupuncturist, does films outside for the kids.
Corrections: The original version of this article misspelled the first name of Marc LaJoie. It also erroneously described the make-your-own falafel night. It also erroneously quoted McDermott as saying that the next-door acupuncturist "does acupuncture for the kids" on band nights in summer. McDermott said he shows flims for kids on those nights. The article has been corrected.
For other installments in our Who's Who in Local Business series, click .