Mark's Carts vendor expands, exiting courtyard 'incubator' for stand-alone retail, catering operation
Eat this week announced the decision to move and expand, signing a lease for the 864-square-foot building just a month after Marcano’s closed.
Photo from loopnet.com
Co-owners Blake Reetz and Helen Harding said the move will allow eat — the official name is spelled with a lower case "e" — to expand its catering business while still offering retail with quick carry-out options.
“In just one kitchen, we’ll be able to have a day-to-day business with carry-out and also focus on catering,” Harding said. “It’s kind of the perfect thing for us as far as location and having a retail space that isn’t too big.”
The business has been operating two food carts — one in Mark’s Carts outdoor food courtyard in downtown Ann Arbor and one at the Ann Arbor Farmers Market — and also renting space in a kitchen on South Industrial for catering.
Now, Harding said eat will keep one cart open for different events around town and focus mainly on catering and takeout at the Packard location.
They are in the process of moving into the building and will complete some minor cosmetic renovations before opening late this fall.
“Everything is tentative, but our goal is to open the kitchen for catering in October and then the retail space in November,” she said.
She said the business will hire a few employees to help operate the new location.
Eat’s menu centers around local and seasonal ingredients, offering items like salads, sandwiches, soups, tarts, skewers and platters.
“We try to promote and prepare seasonal menus,” Harding said. “Guests often comment that they love how healthy our food is.”
The move to rent the former Marcano’s building is a big step for eat, Harding said. It gives the business its own space to promote catering and focus on developing more of a presence in Ann Arbor.
She said that having an outdoor food cart at Mark’s Carts helped with initial visibility and acted as an “incubator” for this next move.
“I think us moving from Mark’s Carts is kind of what Mark (Hodesh) had in mind,” she said. “It’s like an incubator project. I have a feeling other businesses from Mark’s Carts will be doing similar things in the future.”
Before Marcano’s, the small building on Packard just south of East Stadium Boulevard was occupied by BTB Burrito, which closed in August 2010 because the location was unprofitable. It was also once occupied by a Cottage Inn Pizza.
After Marcano’s moved out, it was listed with Colliers International for $2,700 a month.
Although several businesses have moved in and out of the space, Harding said the turnover rate doesn’t concern her.
“We thought about the location, and we think it’s great for us,” she said. “If for some reason the retail business doesn’t pan out, then we’ll close it down and use the space for only catering.”