Meet your merchant: Margarita’s owner focuses on community |

Meet your merchant: Margarita’s owner focuses on community

Trevor Michael, owner, Margarita’s Mexican Restaurant & Cantina, 988 Plaza Drive, Grass Valley.
John Hart/ | The Union

Margarita’s Mexican restaurant

Address: 988 Plaza Drive, Grass Valley

Phone: 530-272-6974

Margarita’s, a locally owned Mexican restaurant, has been a popular destination for many in the area since it first opened in 1993. For owner Trevor Michael, who has owned the restaurant since 2003, focusing on the community has been the main ingredient for his success.

Michael, though not a native of Nevada County, quickly fell in love with its charm when he began working as an engineer for the Grass Valley Group during the late 1990s. He also did freelance work in the Bay Area, but says that the long commutes and days spent away from his family made him question his career path.

“I moved my family up here, and as time went on we began to center our focus here in the foothills. The key factor was when we decided we wanted to live in Grass Valley instead of Sacramento or the Bay Area. Once we were here, we decided to go into business locally,” Michael said. “My wife got into business with a book store and she began to run that during the time I was commuting to the Bay Area for work. Rather than driving down to San Jose to spend a week working and then coming back home for the weekend, we basically rearranged our lives. We wanted a normal family arrangement, and this was the way to do it; my wife would continue running her book business and I would start in on a new activity.”

The opportunity arose for Michael when a Mexican restaurant named Chano’s was put up for sale after the owners decided to retire. Michael was a loyal customer of the establishment and was very fond of its food, he told The Union in 2003, and so the fit was natural.

His acquisition of Margarita’s is a similar tale, he says. When he heard previous owner Rosa Cardenas was going to sell the restaurant, he knew it was an opportunity he could not pass up.

“I speak a little Spanish, and much of the kitchen staff are Spanish-speaking. Basically, by talking about the goings-on around town, it was drawn to my attention (that Margarita’s was for sale). One day, I simply went over there and talked to (Cardenas); she wasn’t quite ready at the time so said we would talk later. About a year later, she said it was time so we went ahead with the transaction,” Michael explained.

Since then, he has strived to make Margarita’s a destination for local residents to enjoy good food and atmosphere. Thanks to his community-based approach to running the business, it’s also become a popular meeting spot for local businesses and groups.

“Part of the way I see me and my family living in this community is trying to be a part of it. Both my wife and I are involved in public service and furthermore, we think that making the community come together is something that has value. Margarita’s is a physically large restaurant, one of the larger ones in the area, and many of the community groups that go there have struggled finding places to meet regularly or easily,” said Michael. “I don’t have any difficulty extending hospitality to community groups who think that using the space of Margarita’s would be useful to them. We have people come in and we don’t charge them for the use of the space if their time selections don’t conflict with anything and if the groups are for the benefit of the community. If possible, we help as much as we can to encourage the growth of the community.”

Michael said he sees himself running Margarita’s for a long time to come.

From his loyal patrons to the staff he describes as the “key (that) makes all the difference in the world to the business,” there’s much to be grateful for and no reason to give it up, he added.

“The restaurant has become a bit of a local institution. The customers who come know the restaurant, they know what we have to offer and they like it. And we like our customers. The community support is the restaurant,” Michael said.

“I want to give back and help improve lives of everyone in our community and in our town — so they come and support the business and in return we at the restaurant, myself and the staff included, put effort towards helping the people in town,” he added.

Spencer Kellar is a freelance writer for The Union; he can be reached at

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