Muriel Willhite purchased the Pancake Cottage on Catalina Island in 1984. Under her leadership, the business became one of the most successful breakfast and lunch spots on the island, eventually expanding into a new, larger location.
But the Pancake Cottage was not well positioned to weather the unforeseeable tribulations of the COVID-19 pandemic—including public health orders—because it offered no outdoor dining. Willhite was forced to shut her doors in March of last year, along with almost every other business on the island. She was never able to reopen.
“Muriel built a booming business, put her blood, sweat and tears into it, and loved it more than life itself,” said Megan Wright, a 36-year-old Catalina resident who bought the struggling restaurant from Willhite, who is in her 80s. “The pandemic hit and it was just too hard to keep the doors open.”