New pop-up Latin American food business opens in former Atrium Café

Grandma’s Kitchen is just one order away at a new pop-up catering business in the former Atrium Café.

Heather Fagan opened Doña Marina’s, which serves Latin American cuisine, at the Port Huron location at 1519 Military St. Thursday. Fagan said she hopes the business will be open for takeout orders at least twice a week. Dates and times will be announced on the company’s Facebook page at Dona Marina’s LLC every week. To order in advance, call (810) 388-8889.

Preparing for the business’ first day of opening on Thursday morning, Fagan rubbed garlic, seasonings and lime juice into raw chicken in the form of a large pot of boiled beans on the stove. . The smell of baked orange pork wafted through the kitchen.

The company was named after Fagan’s grandmother, Marina Morales. Fagan’s favorite memories revolve around her grandmother’s cooking while she stayed with her during summers in Nicaragua. Morales was the best cook in the family, Fagan said, and even sold food she cooked in her own kitchen to friends and restaurants.

Fagan’s mother was visiting the United States from her hometown of Managua, Nicaragua as a young woman when she met Fagan’s father, who is from Port Sanilac but was stationed in California at the time in during his service in the Navy. The couple met, began an international romance, and the rest is history, Fagan said.

Doña Marina owner Heather Fagan prepares grilled chicken to cook during the soft opening of the new take-out restaurant Thursday, October 20, 2022 at the Atrium Kitchen in Port Huron.

Doña Marina’s is a tribute to generations of her family, old and new. Fagan follows her grandmother’s desire to follow her dreams and be the best version of herself. Fagan said she also wants to show her children, Adriana and Nicholas, that they can achieve anything they want.

“(My kids) are like yeah mom, follow your dreams. Like they’re watching me graduate from college. They’ve seen me start a nonprofit (Seed and Soul Society). Now they’re watching me open a restaurant,” Fagan said. “And I hope that by watching me do these things, I can encourage them the same way my grandmother encouraged me, that maybe that not everything will happen in time. you think it’s going to happen, but if you persist, you can achieve anything you want.”

Fagan said she loves cooking because food creates bonding and a sense of togetherness. Growing up, no matter how busy everyone was, they always got together for a family dinner.

“(Food) brings love and conversation, I mean I’ve never seen anyone miserable with a piece of food in their mouth,” Fagan said with a laugh. “It’s good and cooking is supposed to come from the heart. When you feed people, you show them love.”

Doña Marina owner Heather Fagan prepares grilled chicken during the soft opening of the new take-out restaurant Thursday, October 20, 2022 at the Atrium Kitchen in Port Huron.

Food is also a way to share other cultures and bring new parts of the world to the local community, Fagan said.

“Being able to bring in authentic food from different places, it brings a lot to the community,” Fagan said. “I think with this you learn a lot about people. And knowledge is power.”

Port Huron resident Jose Martinez stopped in for a bite to eat Thursday. Being Hispanic himself, he said it was nice to see food in the area that reflects his heritage.

Fagan has worked in restaurants all her life, as a waitress, bartender, waiter, hostess and manager. She also held office jobs, sometimes multiple jobs at once, to support her two children while raising them as a single mother.

Now she is fulfilling her dream of owning her own restaurant with the support of her family, friends and life partner, Josh Jones.

Doña Marina's pollo asado combo to go during the restaurant's soft opening on Thursday, October 20, 2022 at the Atrium Kitchen in Port Huron.

“I’m grateful to be able to bring parts of myself into something I love and share it with others,” Fagan said.

Fagan said she will be at the old Atrium Café until spring, when she will move into the new one. Wrigley Center in a food court style restaurant as soon as it opened.

Doña Marina’s will be open from 4:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. Friday. The Friday menu includes Churrasco, a marinated skirt steak topped with chimichurri and served with Spanish rice and beans; a Cuban and Vigoron sandwich, yucca root with ensalada, pork rinds and hot sauce.

Contact Laura Fitzgerald at (810) 941-7072 or [email protected]

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