Mary’s Market to open new East State location

StoryImage( ‘/Images/Story//Auto-img-11460870335426.jpg’, ‘Photo provided’, ‘Organic pork loin bruschetta is one of many new dishes on the menu for Mary's Market's new cafe.’);

The new Mary’s Market Café opening April 26 on East State Street—the chain’s first new store in three years—is not your typical café.

For one thing, there’s the range of new menu items, including 24 new items falling in every daypart, from oatmeal stewed in orange juice and cinnamon sticks, to new healthy open-face bruschetta sandwiches (avoids the carbs of a sandwich topper) to a new, separate dinner menu, a first for Mary’s Market.

For another, there’s the inherent health found in most of the new dishes. You can find foods developed off major new food trends—antioxidant-rich foods, healthy-aging foods, meatless meal options, and natural and organic dishes.

“As we celebrate our new East State café opening, we’re debuting a brand-new menu focused on good-for-you gourmet menu options,” said Bryan Suh, chief operating officer and executive chef of Mary’s Market.

Suh added: “Our menu plays to key target segments—those 18 to 34 index the highest among consumers looking to try new foods, consumers 35-54 opt for natural goodness, those 50 to 64 have an increased concern over healthy aging.”

The everyday gourmet offerings are part of the Market’s new “inherently healthy” food strategy. The approach also takes dead aim at the growing demand for upscale, exotic and gourmet ingredients, the biggest change in restaurant diner demands in the last three years. A new, affluent attitude, a desire for more adventuresome eating, and a feeling of entitlement among overwhelmed, overworked Americans are giving diners permission to treat themselves to gourmet foods (122 million U.S. adults have the means and desire to “trade up” to new foods, according to the BCG Group).

In the new Mary’s Market, opening at 4431 E. State St., fresh prepared or “real-time” foods are necessary, Suh said, as “fresh” now tops the list of the most desirable food attributes in retail and restaurant foods (more than 95 percent of the restaurant’s prepared foods are made from scratch in a central development kitchen).

For Mary’s, a big push is around antioxidants, the hot, new food industry buzz. Antioxidants are organic substances (vitamins C, D, A) that are frequently found in brightly-colored fruits and vegetables. In the body, antioxidants play a “housekeeping” role, mopping up dangerous free radicals before they get a chance to do any harm. This process is thought to help to prevent cancer, heart disease and stroke.

The Market will carry its “lifestyle” food format to its new catering service, offering healthier choices for breakfast, lunch and dinner, from fresh appetizers and items for grazing to good-for-you gourmet dinner options. Mary’s Market Catering will operate out of the East State café.

Mary’s Market hopes to roll out the new menu at its East State café to its other Rockford cafés within two months of the opening. The company says it is developing plans to update its menu with new, healthier additions every three to four months, to keep up with consumers’ changing demands.

Mary’s Market is one of the first fast-casual restaurants in the United States, helping pioneer the concept of casual gourmet dining with its first fast-casual café in 1982.

From the April 26-May 2, 2006, issue

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