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We are inspired by women who turn their dreams into realty! Maire Bryne, owner of Thyme Cafe and Market and Local Kitchen and Wine Bar, is a chef and entrepreneur who grew her love for home-cooked meals into the two successful restaurants that are largely responsible for turning Santa Monica’s Ocean Park strip into a destination, all the while balancing being a mother of two. Maire shares some of her secrets with us here…

  1. What inspired you to launch Thyme Cafe?

I had a catering company for 4 years before I opened Thyme.  It grew every year and I was definitely in need of more space.  I was ready to grow and legitimize the business.  I loved the catering and had always wanted a café in conjunction with the catering.  That is where Thyme Café & Market came along.  We found this location on Ocean Park and it just clicked.

  1. How did you actualize making it happen?

There was a lot that went into making it happen.  I found the space.  I had to figure out who would build and help me design the space.  It was my first construction project ever and there was a steep learning curve.  My husband was a huge help with the banks and the real estate.  Upon opening…. I would say that I just put my head down and worked so hard.  I have always embraced change and been willing to implement better systems.  Owning a restaurant you have to be ready to work hard, make changes, and think on your toes.  I love what I do and I think that the passion for it shows.

  1. What have been the biggest challenges?

Hiring is difficult but if you hire the right person it can be such a blessing to your business.

  1. Biggest rewards?

The customers can be so great and supportive.  I have met so many amazing people.  I love being at work when a friend comes walking in unexpected…. one of the little joys of having a restaurant!!

  1. When did you realize it was time to expand and open Local?

I had Thyme for 5 years and I was itching to open another location.  I had been looking at locations to open another Thyme but the location on Ocean Park came available and I thought that it would be a great space. The project was so much fun to pull together.  I felt so much more confident this go round.  This time I hired a chef and invested more in a management team.  It has been a ton of fun!

  1. How do you balance it all with being a mom?

I get asked this a lot and I am not sure how to answer it.  I don’t feel terribly stressed by it all.  I feel as though I have a good balance.  I work a lot but when I am home I try to put everything aside and be with my girls.  We have the morning together and I try to get home early two days a week so that we can have dinner together and do something fun.  On the weekends I try to be with them as much as I can. I have an amazing nanny and my husband is very involved in helping raise our girls.

  1. Aside from your restaurants, where do you love to eat out in LA?

I love Bestia downtown and Gjelina in Venice for a fun night out.  I am always trying new places.  I will drive for food!!

  1. Fave getaway? 

Hawaii is a favorite for my husband and me.  We try to go at least once a year.  Our trips are always about 4-5 days.  I think I have only taken 2 weeks off once since I opened Thyme.

  1. With kids? 

My parents have a home on Balboa Island and it is the perfect getaway with the kids.  All their cousins live down there and they have the best time.  We sit on the Bayfront and they can play for hours.  I grew up going to Balboa so there is such a great feeling when I see my girls doing the same.

  1. Without?

We love Napa and we go once a year for our anniversary.  We have been going to Healdsburg, which we love.  The food is great!  The views are amazing and of course so is the wine.  I swear, I could just drive around looking out the window at Napa scenery and be happy!