By Candice Wagener | Photographed by Hillary Schave
As the soul food movement slowly but surely takes off in Madison, you’ll find some of Madison’s best on Monroe Street, just a stone’s throw from Camp Randall. Marissa Holmes and her family opened up Marie’s in July 2019 and they’ve been thriving ever since. Her comfort food definitely fits the bill: Fried chicken that is juicy, yet crisp, and collard greens that taste like they came straight out of the South. Holmes learned most of her cooking skills at home, though she does have a few fast-food gigs under her belt from earlier in her career. Holmes says being a female restaurateur is “very interesting … it’s a lot of work; yet very humbling, and I learn something new every day.”
Because Marie’s has only offered takeout since the beginning, Holmes hasn’t made many changes to how she runs the show. Her biggest challenge has been handling the constant influx of phone orders, since the restaurant does not have an online ordering system set up. She’s appreciative for her customers’ patience and the fact that business has actually been booming since the pandemic started. “I’m blessed and grateful for that! The community has been extremely supportive and they appreciate that we’re being cautious,” says Holmes.
While this time has not been without its pain points, Holmes has kept herself going through prayer. “And thinking of what I want and how I want things to go, versus giving energy to my fears.”
Favorite restaurant: “I love Chili’s and Portillo’s. I’m not hard to please when it comes to food, but I’m an extremely picky eater. I hardly try new things. I plan on getting better with that. I just got wind of Finca Coffee’s tacos, so that’s my obsession at the moment.”
Read more about the city’s female chefs in our Head of the Table feature.