Madelyn Markoe is Co-Founder of Media Noche, a casual counter-serve restaurant offering sandwiches, rice bowls, and other Cuban cuisine. Media Noche’s resolve during socio economic challenges is owed to Markoe’s self-taught business acumen, where her determination amidst unprecedented times sustained both community and employee values.
MARKOE & MEDIA NOCHE
Markoe had always dreamt of becoming a chef. Inspired by her love for Cuban food, Markoe began her culinary career working at restaurants, the eventual goal being to have her own. While attending San Francisco State University, Markoe enrolled in a class dealing with food and wine, invigorating her already-strong appreciation for culinary arts. The course showcased food’s connective qualities, a notion Markoe held onto in her beloved trips to Cuba, with Cuban culture, food, and music leaving an enamoring impression on her. Inspired to take a unique spin on Cuban cuisine, Markoe partnered with a friend to open restaurant Media Noche in 2007, realizing her restaurateur ambitions. “We are in San Francisco surrounded by awesome produce and ingredients,” Markoe affirms, “so we wanted to make it our own.”
Markoe’s biggest challenge was maintaining Media Noche during the COVID-19 pandemic. Not only did she strive to avoid closure for business sake, but Markoe also wanted to ensure the wellbeing of her community and employees. Backed by Markoe’s sense of public duty and relief subsidies, Media Noche remained open for the pandemic’s entirety. Having a rebranded mentality, Markoe realized that “in life, you never really know what’s coming at you, but with a business you really have to be able to focus when that’s happening and pivot. It’s so easy to just get caught up in your emotions.” Markoe also takes pride in the growth of her staff. Nearly 70% of current Media Noche employees have worked there since the restaurant’s founding, a testament to Markoe building strong relationships with employees, taking their input, and supporting their growth. Markoe continues to expand her restaurant, with summer plans for new hires and a food truck.
FOOD FOR THOUGHT
When asked what’s looked for in future employees, Markoe says she looks for people that are bright, well-spoken, open to learning, and for those that bring a positive energy to the table. When asked for advice to give future entrepreneurs, Markoe advises to be open minded and know one’s goals. In her entrepreneurial journey, Markoe initially wanted control over every part of her business plans, with anything awry signifying failure in her mind. Now having a fuller understanding of the business world, Markoe’s newfound mindset reminds her of a David Bowie quote: “I don’t know where I’m going from here, but I promise it won’t be boring.” Markoe assures that “we never really know what’s coming at us, but we can approach it with an open mind and sense of curiosity.” She asks us all to “understand that it might not play out how [we] want. It’s really important to work on cultivating a space where you can let yourself breathe or you’re not self-identifying.”
Markoe’s entrepreneurial journey shows the lengths perseverance and dedication can take you. In coupling her lifelong dreams with newfound inspirations, Markoe made her ambitions into a reality in her decade-and-running success story. With her keen attention to loyalty, employee growth, and community values, one can understand Media Noche’s success, and how its accomplishments are owed to its founder’s thoughtful conventions.