Tell us about The Marketplace Cafe:
“The Marketplace is a community builder,” says Robbie Robles, General Manager of the Marketplace Café. “We have this amazing food that speaks for itself. David Renner and Kevin Schmitz who started the Marketplace (with their specialty prepared foods at first) are both chefs with amazing skills. We have an amazing team. The food speaks for itself. It’s all clean. No GMO. Everything’s made from scratch and we made fast casual cafes using this amazing food. When we first opened the doors to our first cafe in Sheffield, it was like we were aliens because it was so new to everybody in the Berkshires and especially South County. Going to Pittsfield, (the cafe opened on October 13, 2010), I feel like people understood it a lot quicker.
The whole idea with the fast casual is you go to the register, you place your order, and it’s almost like a production line, so we’re able to get this food to you quick. Marketplace has come such a long way. We’ve grown and added the online ordering and things like our Speed Pass where you can save credit cards on file. We have it saved so can you walk in, skip the line, pick your food up, and you’re out.”
What is the Marketplace Community?
Shaun Muldowney, Manager of The Marketplace Cafe: “On your general week, your average week, 90% of the people that we see coming in every day are people that we see all the time and then from there, that 10% extra people coming in every week I believe are them telling their friends to come check this place out and then next thing you know they become regulars and it’s really awesome to see all of these fresh faces. It’s almost like living an episode of Cheers, where you have all of these people coming in and everybody knows everybody’s name”. “You know their latte when they are walking in the door,” interjects Robbie.
Shaun continues, “You see George coming across the street and you know he’s getting a Caesar Club Wrap. ‘Let’s get it going.’ So that’s really cool. And as Robbie said earlier this is about community building and us having our own community of people who love us and are always coming to us and recommending us to friends and family. It’s really awesome to be a part of.”
Who are your customers after COVID-19 restrictions?
Shaun: “It’s a really interesting mix. We do get a lot of returning customers, the people that already love us, know our food… their ordering has changed a little bit. The people that would normally come in order and talk are now placing their orders online and doing a curbside pick up kind of thing, so it’s very quick, which is what everything is supposed to be right now, limit your interactions, but we’re getting a lot of new people as well. We’re getting a lot of business from the hospital and also a lot of other businesses in the area are raising money to be able to buy lunches and meals for people at the hospital so that’s a lot of what we’re doing in Pittsfield right now…. A lot of people that we would typically get in for lunch are now taking advantage of our Family Dinners…. To be honest, a lot of our regular customers are people who may be working from home now, whether it be people who are working in the DA’s office, or at the banks, or they’re lawyers, (people who work in) kind of a couple block radius of us. They’re working from home so that’s understandable. But we do see returning customers.”
Robbie: “Something that Marketplace is working on is how to do we keep customers and bring new customers during these crazy times, but now we are doing more prepared meals. More than ever you’re going to find them in the grab and go (section). The Thursday Night Family Dinners that we’ve done forever that feed a family of 4, 2 adults and 2 children, we’ve extended that to a Monday through Friday thing. You can find the full menu on marketplacekitchen.com. And those are the kind of things that seem to be working out and could possibly be the new future of the Marketplace.”
Other new things include:
Contactless Delivery Service: Call the Pittsfield Cafe to place your order in advance for delivery within 2 daily windows, Monday through Friday. Coordinate over the phone where at your residence or office you would like the Marketplace team member to place your order upon arrival, and they will place your order according to your arrangement and call you from their vehicle to let you know your order has arrived. All deliveries require a $20 minimum purchase, $4 delivery charge and 15% gratuity. You can also set up a delivery to send the gift of a meal to friends and family or workers on the frontlines during this crisis.
Delivery Times (M-F):
Between 10 and 11 am for delivery between 12 and 1 pm
Between 11 am and 3 pm for delivery between 4 and 5 pm
Curbside Pick Up: The Marketplace team is super flexible. They can bring your pre-paid order to your vehicle or they are even willing to set up a table outside the cafe where you can pick up your order if you feel more comfortable. Enjoy free, convenient 5-minute food pick up designated parking right outside the cafe.
How are you doing right now and how can the public support you?
Shaun: “I want to first off just say how absolutely humbling it’s been, how supportive everybody is in this time. Our community is absolutely one of a kind. The people who are reaching out and trying to help get food to people in need or get food to kids, it’s just honestly so heartwarming to see this. It’s been a journey, but we’re doing great. It’s weird to say that because there are so many hiccups and (it’s challenging) learning how to adjust and change with the times, but we’re making it work and we just really appreciate everyone’s support in this time.”
Ways to support besides placing an order for yourself or someone else:
You can buy gift cards through downtownpittsfield.com and the cafe can either mail out a physical gift card or you can get the gift card digitally depending on your preference. You can also call the cafe at 413- 358-4777 and purchase your gift card over the phone.
The Marketplace Cafe sources locally as much as possible throughout the company which includes two cafes, a restaurant, specialty prepared foods, high-end catering and Café-to-Go. Local ingredients include greens from Equinox Farm in Sheffield, MA; milk from High Lawn Farm in Lee, MA; coffee and espresso from Barrington Coffee Roasting Company, also in Lee; and beverages from Harney & Sons Tea in Millerton, NY. Every time you purchase something from the Marketplace family of businesses, you are also supporting numerous other local businesses. You can find a full list of regional friends and partners at marketplacekitchen.com/our-story/#our-partners
Tell us about the Marketplace Good Stuff Show:
Robbie: “We started the Marketplace Good Stuff Show live every Friday at 3 pm on Instagram. The Instagram Live is a show that I wanted to start to bring the community together and just keep everybody up to date and engaged with Marketplace and what we’re doing… and all the things that are constantly changing. And also keeping in mind all of our local purveyors and local heroes. I’ve been fortunate enough that every person I’ve called has said yes. We’ve already interviewed the owners of Barrington Coffee Roasters: Barth Anderson and Gregg Charbonneau, Mike Harney of Harney & Sons, and others.” (Play the video at 7:07 to hear more about the Marketplace Good Stuff Show!)
Interview conducted by Kimberly Gritman, Downtown Pittsfield, Inc.