Marletto’s Marketplace underwent its first semester in business last fall after its renovation in the summer of 2017. Webster University renewed its contract with Sodexo Food Services which paid for the $1 million renovation before the 2017-18 school year.
Since Webster did not pay for the renovation, it was set to make profit from Marletto’s from the start of the school year. One week’s revenue from this school year totals about $22,000 according to Octavio Pino. Pino is the general manager of Marletto’s and said $18,000 is spent on food each week. That leaves about $4,000 after food alone for profit. Costs to run the equipment and worker salaries are more payments that affect profit margin. Pino said he believed the new Marletto’s has been a success so far.
Chef Tim Brown said the renovation made his job better but also difficult. He said the renovation attracted more students and faculty and therefore more demand.
“[The renovation] has made it easier but at the same time a little bit harder because you got a lot more people coming in because they want to see it,” Brown said. “I wasn’t expecting what they did, so I can tip my hat off to the guys who did it.”
The renovation lasted two and a half months. Pino said he was nervous about getting everything done in time for the new school year.
“You’re always afraid you’re not going to open on time,” Pino said. “You’re going to have all the parents show up for orientation, and there will be no cafeteria.”
The goal was to give a newer look to the restaurant with different food choices, such as vegetarian and vegan options, according to Pino. He and other workers took students to the University of Missouri-St. Louis to see what they wanted at Marletto’s.
Subconnection, Far East Fusion and The Wild Mushroom were restaurants at the forefront of the renovation. Pino said the new options like the sushi at Far East Fusion are big sellers.
Junior and commuter student Chester Bacon did not come to Marletto’s often before the renovation. Bacon said the buffet style made it harder for him to stay healthy. Bacon said the new setup helped him be more conscious of his eating habits.
“Being able to pay for healthier things [like] wheat bread, sub sandwiches,” Bacon said. “They portion out your food for you. You can’t just go up and continue to eat things. It helps me personally.”
Bacon also said the new commuter meal plan benefited him. The renovation was not only about adding new food choices but to change the student plan to make business more effective.
Commuters used to have to buy Gorlok bucks to eat at Marletto’s for a discount. Now they can use their ID any place on campus to buy food with the $100 commuter meal plan.
The commuter plan is available for undergraduate, full-time students. The money is added to the commuters’ account at the beginning of each semester.
Pino said they used this idea to get more people to come through the door.
“[The commuter plan] was designed to bring the commuters into the community,” Pino said. “Now commuters have a reason to come here.”
Brendan Pruett, who has been a chef at Marletto’s for almost nine years, said he would have changed some parts of the renovation.
Pruett said he would have made the color scheme brighter to make it more vibrant. He said no one asked the chefs for suggestions on what they wanted to have in the kitchen.
Brown, on the other hand, saw the renovation as something the university desperately needed. Brown said Marletto’s was not looking up to par with other colleges. Brown knew many students personally and liked how the renovation allowed him to reach out to more students with his food.
Pino said the renovations done to Marletto’s should make it last for years to come.