Not only have Margaret and Juan Cruz assembled their own business, but they have also built 20 years of marriage.
Last week, the couple celebrated their 20th anniversary. Margaret said she and Juan have been together since the beginning when they met working at Dino’s Pizza in Altoona.
“We always dreamed of getting out on our own and having our own pizzeria,” Margaret Cruz said.
The Cruzes opened pizzerias in New Jersey and Florida before coming to the State College area. Since 2006, Margarita’s Pizzeria has been on 222 W. Beaver Ave. Juan Cruz said the State College location has been the most successful.
Margaret said she and Juan have been working together for so long that they can almost predict what the other is doing. Juan is usually the one who makes the pizzas, while Margaret takes orders and helps the customers, she said.
“She’s the marketer and I’m the maker,” Juan said, while laughing.
Margarita’s Pizzeria is not only a place where people can go to get good food, but it is also a place students frequently visit as their “home away from home,” Margaret said. Juan and Margaret said they have gotten to know a lot of great students over the years.
Ryan Stanger, Class of 2013, said he used to come to Margarita’s all the time when he was an undergraduate. He said the Cruzes keep him coming back because they’re great people who make good pizza.
Margaret Cruz said they adopt all the students who live in the apartment complex that Margarita’s Pizzeria is located in. She said the students come in all the time for food, conversation and even when they’re in need of things like trash bags and boxes.
As students walked past, Juan and Margaret Cruz excitedly waved to them. Juan said the students also wave to them in the morning on their way to class and again on their way home. Students also often bring their parents into the shop to meet the Cruzes, Margaret said. Parents thank them for watching over their kids and making sure they’re staying safe, she added.
Many students walked in the shop and before they could even give their order, Margaret would guess what they wanted and they would smile and nod their head in agreement.
“I know all of our customers’ orders,” Margaret said.
Sherwyn Saul, a programmer at Penn State, said he has been coming to Margarita’s for the past two years. He laughed and talked to Margaret and Juan while waiting for his usual order. Saul said he enjoys coming into the shop and talking to the Cruzes.
“They listen to me and I kind of listen to them,” Saul said as he laughed.
Margaret said it’s awesome how many people they have met over the years. They often have alumni and former customers come in to hug them and tell them how much they miss them. Juan said the shop and all the customers are like one big family.
Standing beside each other, the Cruzes looked around their restaurant and smiled at one another.
“We’re happy to be married for 20 years and we’re happy to still be doing this,” Juan said, motioning toward the restaurant.
“It’s what gets me up in the morning,” he added. “I wake up saying, ‘let’s have another great day.’”