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Marco’s Grilled Cheese expanding with two more locations in Coralville, Iowa City
IOWA CITY — The founder of an iconic Iowa City brand is expanding his reach into brick-and-mortar locations with two simultaneous openings.
Marco’s Grilled Cheese, currently at 117 N. Linn St., plans to open two new locations by mid-April on the east side of Iowa City and in Coralville.
The new Iowa City location at 1621 S. First Ave. will fill the vacancy left by Milio’s. The Coralville site will be moving into 517 Second St. Suite 1, a former Pita Pit on the Coralville Strip.
The two new locations, similar in size to the flagship Linn Street restaurant, will offer more focused menus with potential for late-night service and delivery. Owner Mark Paterno hopes to cut down his current menu by about 30 percent to focus on sandwiches, burgers, tacos and other specialties.
“I’m looking for efficiency, speed more than anything,” Paterno, who also owns Marco’s Island and George’s Best Gyros in Iowa City, told The Gazette.
Earlier last year, he had no intentions of opening one new location, let alone two. But as two locations that fit his criteria came open at the same time, he took the opportunity to triple the restaurant’s footprint in Johnson County.
“I’m really optimistic. Both locations are going into places where there aren’t a lot of late-night options,” he said. “With these new locations, I’m going to try to (offer service) day and night.”
The expansion follows the brick-and-mortar expansions of George’s Best Gyros and Marco’s Island last year. Both started as food carts.
Paterno said Marco’s Island may evolve into a space for budding restaurateurs to try their hand with temporary pop-up restaurants. That restaurant currently is available for private parties only.
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