By, Shawn Spencer
The Monrovian on Myrtle has been a staple in town for many years. Sia and her family were truly lovely people. I know I’m not alone when I say that I was sad to see them sell and move on to enjoy their family. Little did I know, at the time, that another lovely family, Dalis and Michael, would step in to purchase the property and restaurant.
This love story begins in Napa Valley. Dalis studied at the Napa Valley Cooking School. Michael, who is originally from this area, studied under some of the best chefs in Chicago and Napa Valley. They met working together in the kitchen at the Goose & Gander. They fell in love and got engaged. When Michael’s mother purchased the Monrovian in July 2019, she couldn’t think of a better couple to run it for her.
After being open for only a few months, the Monrovian and every other restaurant was forced to close due to the pandemic. What a blow. New building, new business and no way to bring in revenue to offset the costs. Michael and Dalis used the time to remodel the restaurant. They pulled out the old mauve booths, put in a pizza oven, a bakery counter and a full bar. They reopened, new and improved, in November 2020, but they did it thoughtfully.
They started with a small menu and staff. They wanted to make delicious food, offer exceptional service and they wanted to do it right. Their plan was to grow and change incrementally; adding to the menu, adding to the staff (which is a challenge in and of itself) and open the banquet room for private events.
Like every other restaurant, the Monrovian has struggled with hiring staff and the outrageous, inflated cost of food. For reference, chicken has doubled in price, take-out containers have tripled. A case of butter that was $30, is now $75. It’s extremely tough out here for local businesses, especially our restaurants.
So, is the Monrovian for sale? Yes. Are the new owners selling? Hopefully not. They are weighing their options. They have a lot of time, money, blood, sweat and tears invested in this restaurant. Things have changed in the industry. Do they want to sell? No. They just want to make great food for the wonderful people in Monrovia. They do not want to be the old Monrovian, nor should they.
If you haven’t eaten at the Monrovian, I highly recommend that you do. The staff is wonderful. I haven’t had everything on the menu, but everything I have had, has been outstanding. The breakfast is amazing. I’m not sure what I like more, their breakfast potatoes or their polenta. Their sourdough bread is made in-house and is fantastic (you can buy it by the loaf). The cheeseburger is one of the best I’ve ever had. Their pizza is wonderful. The bakery — good grief. Dalis makes the best lemon bars I’ve ever had in my life. All her baked goods are delicious, and they have great coffee to go with it. Dalis even has a ‘bark’ery; Yep, she bakes for the local pups.
If I had a dollar for every time someone said, “we don’t need another beer and burger joint in town,” I’d be rich. Well, here is a restaurant that is clearly breaking the mold and cooking amazing food. So, go! Try it! Don’t walk in expecting the old Monrovian; they’re off enjoying retirement. What you can expect is some pretty spectacular food and stellar service. Give them a try. I can’t wait to hear what you think about it!