© Benevolence Photography

With more than twenty five years in the hospitality industry and having a great-great-grandmother who served as a high profile chef for dignities in Sweden, Michelle Predko undoubtedly felt her calling was in the restaurant industry.

Michelle sat across from me as we chatted about how she came to own The Empress Table and with a smile crossing her face, shared with me that owning a food business wasn’t just her dream, it was a dream that both she and her Dad shared. A dream that she is holding on tight to after losing her Dad (on her 3rd wedding anniversary), a dream that she is living on for her father.

But as most of us know, real dreams don’t come to us as easily as those we have when we close our eyes at night. If anything one might say that what Michelle was going through was quite the opposite. Soon after her Father’s passing she received more unfortunate news, her four year old son had been diagnosed with stage 4 Neuroblastoma, a rare cancer found in the nervous system.

With so much happening at once and the need to focus entirely on caring for her son, Michelle was not able to emotionally and physically continue with her full time job as a catering manager at Westin Hotel. So she took a leap of faith, cashed out her savings, quit her job and in 2016, The Empress Table was born.

© Benevolence Photography

Michelle admits that starting a new business while there was so much already going on in her life might seem crazy, but life really gave her the push she needed to go after the dream she’d been chasing which gave her the flexible hours needed to care for her son.

The Empress Table originally started out as a wedding and event planning company and then expanded into a planning AND catering business that also operates as a full service scratch kitchen out of Luisa’s Cellar in Downtown Sanford.

She wanted her business to be focused on abundance and love – and for people to come and sit at her table and feel a sense of calm and community.

Michelle started her business by giving back to the community. She would volunteer at assisted living facilities and catered for BASE Camp Children’s Cancer Foundation, something that she wants to continue to keep deeply rooted into her business.

© Benevolence Photography

Business began to pick up and word of her catering business began to spread, but still Michelle felt she was being called to do more. Already an avid customer of Luisa’s Cellar, Michelle began talking with owner Mary. They devised a plan and Michelle began hosting dinner nights a few times a month pairing her dinners with wines from Luisa’s Cellar.

Dinner nights quickly became a thing at Luisa’s and The Empress Table was building a name for itself. And today, if you were to walk by Luisa’sCellar on Sanford Avenue you’ll spot the name The Empress Table in the window!

Michelle is now a full time chef inside Luisa’s offering fresh and healthy meals made with locally sourced ingredients when available and a menu that changes with the seasons.

Michelle takes pride in her scratch kitchen, so when she invited the Sanford365 gals and our spouses along with our blog contributor Izzy and her boyfriend James for an evening out for a taste we couldn’t resist. We had a fantastic time as we devoured our plates of pasta, flat bread, fresh fruit salad and veggies along with a fine glass of wine, delicious cup of coffee and dessert from Luisa’s Cellar, over chatter and laughter in the antique chairs that make up the eclectic seating at Luisa’s Cellar.

You too can dine at The Empress Table! The kitchen is open weekly, Thursday, 5pm-10pm, Friday 5pm-11pm, Saturday 12pm-11pm and Sunday 12pm-6pm (check out her DELICIOUS brunch with bottomless Sangria by Luisa’s Cellar!).

You can find The Empress Table inside of Luisa’s Cellar at

206 Sanford Ave, Sanford, FL 32771


© Benevolence Photography

© Benevolence Photography

© Benevolence Photography