Marie Catrib, owner of one of Grand Rapids’ most inviting and award-winning restaurants, has died, according to employees.
The owner of Marie Catrib's, a landmark in the East Hills neighborhood, reportedly lost her battle with cancer on Wednesday at the age of 65.
The family informed Marie Catrib's staff yesterday that Catrib had passed away, said Tim Holstad, a deli worker at the restaurant, and employees thanked the public for its condolences.
Many of the restaurant's customers remembered Catrib as a hard-working and incredibly warm person, who was often seen moving through her popular restaurant giving hugs, greeting old friends and always making new ones.
All day, customers have shared their memories of Catrib on Marie's Catrib's Facebook page.
Catrib ran the restaurant, at 1001 Lake Drive SE, with her two sons, Moussa and Fouad.
Catrib was one of the leading voices for vegan eateries in the community, as well as a supporter of neighborhood revitalization in the East Hills and Eastown areas.
Lebanon to Michigan
Catrib grew up in Tripoli, Lebanon, before moving to Flint in 1970 as a young bride.
She later moved to L’Anse in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, where she began earning her reputation as a chef with her homemade baklava.
In 1985, she opened her first restaurant, Marie’s Deli and Restaurant, in Houghton and owned it for 15 years.
After selling that restaurant, she enrolled in the New England Culinary Institute in Vermont. After a year of training, she completed her externship at the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, N.C., before working a year in Green Bay, Wis., where she became nationally known as a superb pastry chef.
Although pursued by two major industries, according to Marie Catrib’s website, she listened to her heart and her son, Fouad, and returned to Michigan.
After receiving the support of neighborhood developer Guy Bazzani, founder of Local First and president of Bazzani Associates, she opened Marie Catrib’s in East Hills on the day after Thanksgiving in 2005.
Marie Catrib's won the Best New Business Award at the 16th annual Neighborhood Business Awards.