The S.B. Questionnaire: Marge Cafarelli

Making a Difference with the Santa Barbara Public Market’s Developer Extraordinaire

Marge Cafarelli (Aug. 15, 2014)
Paul Wellman

A few days ago, on another beautiful Santa Barbara summer evening, I walked up State Street and onto Victoria past a series of bustling restaurants, from the newly opened Benchmark Eatery, Indonesian-inspired Sama Sama, and sushi stalwart Arigato to bouchon, the Olio mini-village, and the Arlington Tavern. This epicurean’s yellow-brick road led me to the Santa Barbara Public Market, the centerpiece of what’s now our city’s premier dining and entertainment district.

Marge Cafarelli is the wizard responsible for the Market and the connected Alma del Pueblo, a mixed-used project that’s already adding vibrancy to our American Riviera.She came from behind the curtain to answer the Proust Questionnaire.

Which historical figure do you most identify with?

Katharine Graham, who was the chairwoman and CEO of the Washington Post. She worked in a male-dominated business and made a difference.

What is your current state of mind?

Relieved and a bit intense. I am relieved that we have launched the Santa Barbara Public Market and that people are loving what we’ve done there, and I’m excited that our units at Alma Del Pueblo are selling well. Intense, in that we always strive to keep the quality bar very high for all our projects.

What do you like most about your job?

I love starting with a new idea or a blank canvas and creating something that will hopefully make a difference. I also love collaborating with smart and talented people. We have a wonderful team, and on each project we work with people that continuously inspire me and make me better.

What is your idea of perfect happiness?

36 holes of golf on the Big Island of Hawaii with my partner Jan. I must also say that another perfect happiness is listening to the remarkable Music Academy of the West Fellows perform, orchestral and voice. They are truly amazing!

What is your greatest fear?

Losing those closest to me.

Who do you most admire?

My partner Jan Hill, she is the smartest person I know. I also really admire my sister Loretta, who is taking care of my 93 year old mother.

What is your greatest extravagance?

Wonderful wine and surf air.

What is the quality you most like in people?

A sense of humor, honesty, and integrity.

What is the quality you most dislike in people?

Being dishonest.

What do you most value in friends?

Their unconditional love!

What is your most marked characteristic?

I am a perfectionist and I hold people accountable for doing what they say they will do.

Which words or phrases do you most overuse?

I will sometimes say “Seriously.”

Which talent would you most like to have?

I would like to be a concert cellist

If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?

I would relax a bit more.

What do you consider your greatest achievement?

Having lifelong friends that I cherish.

Where would you most like to live?

Well, I’m lucky to live in two of the most beautiful cities in the world, Santa Barbara and San Francisco. I would love to live in London for a year.

What is your most treasured possession?

My pens. I have a pen fetish.

Who makes you laugh the most?

Jan always makes me laugh; we can be quite silly together.

On what occasion do you lie?

When Jan asks me if I have left the office, I sometimes tell a little lie that I have left while I am packing up my bag and not quite out the door.

What is your motto?

If you are going to do something, you might as well do it right!


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