Dana Ferraris, Teacher and Entrepreneur

Photo by Katie Clawson.Photo by Katie Clawson.

Dana Ferraris, professor at McDaniel College, spends his Sunday mornings running the Kismet Café, alongside his wife, Lana.

Ferraris and his wife opened their café on March 2014. “Kismet” means “destiny” or “meant to be,” which was why they named their café the Kismet Café. “It was named after the relationship between my wife and I,” said Dana Ferraris.

Kismet Café is not your usual chain restaurant. Located in Eldersburg, Maryland, at the Kismet, you can get açai bowls, fresh pressed juices, locally roasted coffee and New York Style bagels, which all make it hard for other businesses to compete. Entering their fourth year of business soon, seemingly always busy, they have established themselves in the community. “On an average weekend day, we sell around 1,000 bagels,” said Ferraris. “We tend to go through 45 pounds of coffee a week.”

“I love to get the açai bowls at the Kismet because they remind me of the ones we get when we go to our favorite place at home in Jersey,” said Jackie Fahrenholz, McDaniel student. “They taste so good and are healthy, too.”

Fahrenholz visits Dana Ferraris at his café every Sunday morning along with other McDaniel students. “Both the customers and staff that I’ve met and have had conversations with at the café are always super friendly,” she said. “They make you want to keep going back.”

Ferraris’ sons, nieces, nephews, family friends and friends of friends are all employees at the café. The 25 employees consist of teenagers and young adults who are local Eldersburg high school students and college students who attend Carroll Community College, Towson University and Howard Community College.

“The Kismet Café is full of high energetic and hardworking employees,” said Ferraris.

Dana Ferraris, being both a professor and business owner, is kept quite busy. Ferraris has just started his third year as a professor at McDaniel College. He teaches organic chemistry (lecture and lab), chemical literature, senior seminar and med chemistry.

At the café, Ferraris oversees behind-the-scenes logistics, including baking, making sure all the equipment is running smoothly and maintained, checking that all machines are working, maintenance, paying the bills, and accounting. “I usually am in the café every Sunday morning and on holidays,” he says. “I also spend 5-6 hours a week at home taking care of the bills and the accounting side of things for the business.”

Ferraris says his favorite part is chatting with all the customers at the Kismet. “You kind of have to love being social when you own a local business,” said Ferraris. He says that about 85 percent of his customers are loyal customers and are regulars. “We have over 2,000 customers with loyalty cards.”

“Dr. Ferraris is always working the register making conversation with his customers that are regulars whenever me and my friends go,” says Fahrenholz. “He is a very personable man and he seems to genuinely care about all of his customers.”

Dana Ferraris is also like this is the classroom. “Dr. Ferraris is an excellent teacher and mentor,” says Alyssa Johnston, one of his organic chemistry students. “He really wants to get to know his students and strives to help his students succeed in any way possible.”

Ferraris loves to bring his café to McDaniel. In the Fall, he would bring in bagels for the women’s soccer team on game days and provided bagels to Alpha Sigma Tau sorority for their bid day this year. Every semester he brings in bagels and coffee for his students on exam review days.