Maria does it all, including Mother’s Day

JOANN KIRKLAND PHOTO |Maria Schultheis balances motherhood with the demands of running her own restaurant, Maria’s Kitchen. Her children, Margaret and Daniel, wish mom had more time at home, but in Margaret’s words, ‘We get free food.’

JOANN KIRKLAND PHOTO |Maria Schultheis balances motherhood with the demands of running her own restaurant, Maria’s Kitchen. Her children, Margaret and Daniel, wish mom had more time at home, but in Margaret’s words, ‘We get free food.’

When mothers come into Maria’s Kitchen, they can count on getting more than a good meal. Along with her burritos, chalupas and enchiladas, Maria Schultheis, 38, dishes out advice.

“We can do it, we’re women,” she tells those who wonder how to balance child-rearing with other parts of their lives.

Ms. Schultheis is a single mother with two young children — Margaret, 9, and Daniel, 10. She wishes she could be home with them more, but they understand it’s necessary for her to work to pay the bills, she said.

“It’s hard, very hard,” Ms. Schultheis said. But she knew when Jen diPretoro gave up Greeny’s in the early spring of 2012, it was her chance to live her dream of owning her own business.

“I love to work for myself,” Ms. Schultheis said. “I don’t have to explain to anybody if I need time and I can do it my way.”

When she took over the restaurant on the corner of Route 114 North and Jaspa Road, there were lessons to be learned. She knew how to cook, but the paper work involved in running a business was new to a woman who hadn’t even used a computer.

Without a lot of capital, she worked seven days a week, mostly alone, to save on overhead costs. Now she has two people who assist her and plans to hire a third for the summer season.

She admits to feeling guilty when her daughter asks when she’s going to have more time at home with her mom.

“I feel bad,” Ms. Schultheis said about the often 12-hour days she works.

But when she returns home, she and the kids fall across the bed and have time to talk.

If her hours are long, it’s all with the goal in mind of eventually buying her own house, she said.

There may not be enough time for her own needs, but when the community needs her to provide food for events, she relishes the chance to give back to those who have supported her business. This Friday, she’ll be providing food for 63 teachers for Teachers Appreciation Week.

Ms. Schultheis gets tired and frustrated, she said, but reminds herself of why she is working so hard and admitted she has to pat herself on the back for making a success of her business while balancing her children’s needs.

Does she ever get a day off? Easter, Thanksgiving and Christmas are absolute family time, she said. But every other day, expect to find her in the kitchen or behind the counter serving up her specialties.

And this Sunday? “I’ll be in the kitchen and behind the counter,” she said with a smile.