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posted: 1/20/2014 5:00 AM

South Elgin pancake house offers array of options

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  • Dan Mataragas is the owner of Sweet Berry Cafe in South Elgin.

    Dan Mataragas is the owner of Sweet Berry Cafe in South Elgin.

Daily Herald staff report

An interview with Dan Mataragas, owner of Sweet Berry Cafe in South Elgin.

Q: Describe your business. What do you do?

A: Sweet Berry Cafe offers an array of freshly made to order breakfast/lunch entrees, vegetarian choices, gluten free choices and healthy meals. We use the freshest fruits and vegetables, farm fresh extra large AA grade eggs and high quality meats such as roast prime rib for our beef sandwiches, certified black Angus burgers, real roasted turkey breast, extra thick cut maple smoked bacon and savory thick cut bone-in ham. We serve Hawaiian Kona coffee. Each pot is freshly ground. Our homemade soups are prepared every morning with fresh ingredients, never canned. We offer half-priced soups to-go everyday from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m.

Q: What made you start your business?

A: I was at a turning point in my career and was looking for a job. I was being offered positions from area restaurants. I decided to try and get financed and open my own restaurant to have the creative freedom that would be denied to me by working for some other restaurant. I met my executive chef Hector Hernandez and we opened Sweet Berry Cafe. Hector is very innovative and creative in his dishes. Our customers have been totally amazed at our creativeness and our constantly changing featured specials.

Q: What has been the most difficult obstacle in running or starting a small business?

A: One of the first and most important obstacles was trying to get financing. In this economy it was not easy, but I made it happen. Now my biggest obstacle is to not forget to keep challenging myself and my staff to hold ourselves to a higher standard of service and quality.

Q: What do you enjoy most about operating your business?

A: Watching as we serve our food to our guests and they immediately say "Wow!" and then pull out their phones to take pictures and post them online.

Q: Is this what you pictured yourself doing when you were young?

A: I grew up in restaurants in the family business. Can't say I thought I would own my own place one day, but I definitely have it in my blood.

Q: If you could give one tip to a rookie business owner, what would it be?

A: Don't believe anyone that tells you you can't do something in life. Sure there will be obstacles to get by, but if you have a dream or a vision of what you want to do. Just do it. Everything will fall in place if you keep moving forward. Life is Sweet! Enjoy It!

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