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Continuing the legacy

Exquisitely presented, these lemon and lime tarts, topped with brûléed meringue, offer the perfect dessert.

Exquisitely presented, these lemon and lime tarts, topped with brûléed meringue, offer the perfect dessert.

For twenty-five years, the Marigold Café and Bakery has set the gold standard for fine dining and personalized service in Colorado Springs with legions of devoted customers. When beloved owners, Elaine and Dominique Chavanon, decided to retire, they looked for someone who would continue their legacy. Little did they know that the perfect owner would find them. 

For fifteen years, local businessman, Ghassan Salim Nehme, affectionately known as “Gus,” and his wife had been talking about buying a restaurant. They never imagined that it would be the most popular restaurant in the city.

“But when we first walked through the doors of the Marigold,” he says, “We loved it. It felt like family. It felt like home.” 

In Lebanon, where Gus is from, family is everything. What attracted them to Marigold’s was that it was family-owned and operated. “We felt welcome. We could sense the loyalty of the customers. When you know people by their names and faces it means something.”

On January 3, he became the proud owner of the restaurant he calls “the jewel of Colorado Springs.”

Although he had no experience in the restaurant industry, he loves food, he loves people, and he recognizes the importance of personalized service. As the owner of a longtime family-owned Mercedes service facility, he treats his customers like family, going above and beyond to make sure everyone is taken care of.

He is applying that same philosophy to Marigold’s. 

“We are here to listen and to learn,” Gus says.

Every evening, he greets each customer with a warm handshake and asks what he can do for them. 

One evening, when no desserts were available for a customer with gluten sensitivities, he sent a busser out to find what she wanted--a gluten-free sherbet.

Another key aspect in continuing Dominique and Elaine’s legacy is maintaining the consistency of the food. For that, he credits the expertise of his staff.

“Our staff is second to none,” Gus says. “We’re honored that everyone has chosen to stay on.”

Initially, customers were afraid the new owner would come in and change the menu. To their delight, nothing has been changed.

The Beef Bourguignon, braised in a rich Burgundy-style red wine mushroom sauce with pancetta, is still their top seller. But you need to ask for it. Offered as a daily special, it’s not even on the menu.

Crisp and golden brown, the Fish and Chips, made with fresh cod and fried in a delicate beer batter, has drawn praise from customers all over the world.

In fact, Marigold’s menu has been enhanced, bringing back specials that customers have been asking for, including calves liver, grouper, and catfish.

During a recent visit, longtime customer, Paulette Greenberg, raved about the lamb chops, another often-requested special. 

“When we were in Ireland,” she says, “we never ordered the lamb because Marigold’s always made theirs better. It still is. They’ve maintained the quality of the previous owners.” 

“Our seafood and meat are fresh, delivered six days a week,” Gus says.

Gaze at their exquisite cakes, breads and pastries, baked fresh every day, and you are immediately transported to one of the finest European pâtisseries without leaving the city limits. 

“They’re made with lots of love,” Gus says, “and you can taste it.” 

Gus is so impressed with the artistry of Pastry Chef, José Aguilar, and his staff that he stops in every Saturday morning simply to watch the chefs create their magic.

Every evening, one of Gus’s greatest joys is bringing food to customers’ tables and seeing their smiles of appreciation.

“We want our staff and our customers to know that they have our commitment,” he says. “Whatever they want, we are there for them.”

“I can’t tell you how blessed my family and I feel,” Gus says.

Marigold’s loyal customers feel the same way.