by Francoise Villeneuve
Chef Lisa Schroeder has turned “maternal” into a business model. After a career change and training at the top echelon of New York’s fine-dining restaurants, Lisa Schroeder moved to Portland to open a restaurant designed to nurture customers the way a mother would—with kid-friendly comfort food. She took a mother’s aptitude for maximizing product utilization, and above all, a reasonable budget, and made them into a successful business.
The idea for Mother’s was born years before its opening, when juggling a marketing job and part-time catering gig left Schroeder little time for cooking for her daughter. She searched in vain for take-out food that could substitute for the food she would cook for her daughter if she had time. Schroeder was determined to create a restaurant that served that kind of food. On a leap of faith, she cast aside her jobs and enrolled at the CIA. “I wanted to know ’the’ way of doing things and that’s why I went to the Culinary Institute of America,” she explains. After graduating, she worked at Le Cirque and Lespinasse in New York before taking her training to Portland.
In 2000, Schroeder opened the restaurant she had dreamed of eight years before. Mamma Mia Trattoria followed a few years later—the same concept of Mother’s approachable comfort food, but with regional Italian dishes.