Mark Paterno, owner of Marco’s Grilled Cheese, owns considerably extra than the noteworthy downtown Iowa Metropolis food stuff cart and restaurant. Around the past 20 years, he has developed a varying community of enterprises.
Mark Paterno is a person of several, numerous endeavors. He has owned three food stuff carts, multiple dining establishments, a taxi business, a ease keep, and an Iowa Hawkeye goods shop more than the final 20 yrs — all although functioning as a full-time regional household real estate agent.
Marco’s Grilled Cheese food cart is a staple for lots of regional university pupils after a very long evening out. It was initially produced when Paterno was a college student at the University of Iowa. Acquiring just returned from learning abroad in Spain in 1999, he necessary to find a way to make money.
While Paterno’s to start with title is Mark, the enterprise owner just assumed “Marco” sounded much better.
“So technically, Marco is Italian for Mark,” Paterno stated. “I materialize to be Italian, so I figured it would perform.”
From there, his small business ventures only continued to grow. In 2006, he acquired George’s Gyros foodstuff cart and started Paco’s Tacos foods cart in 2012. Most recently, on April 1, he opened a everlasting cafe establishment for George’s Finest Gyros on Iowa Avenue in downtown Iowa City, even though, he will carry on the meals cart.
Dining places are not the only items up Paterno’s sleeve. For about a 10 years, he owned a taxi business — aptly named Marco’s Taxi. As one of the leading taxi products and services in Iowa Town at the time, small business boomed, and Paterno uncovered it satisfying.
While owning the taxi small business, Paterno also began the I.C. Pit Stop in 2007, a ease retail outlet and gas station on the corner of Kirkwood Avenue and Gilbert Street.
“We were spending so a great deal income on fuel for the taxis,” Paterno claimed. “I believed it’d be a wonderful concept to purchase gasoline from ourselves.”
With the development of Uber and Lyft, the will need for taxis dropped right away, forcing Paterno to make a difficult decision and close all those enterprises in 2015.
But that is not the place his company ventures ended. Paterno dabbled in the good dining business when he purchased Devotay cafe on North Linn Street at the conclude of 2017. However, just after a vandalization and a realization that he needed to get the job done with food items that he’s a lot more familiar with, like street foods, he closed the restaurant and opened Marco’s Grilled Cheese as a brick-and-mortar institution.
Just ahead of the pandemic hit, Paterno bought the location upcoming door and turned it into a further namesake — Marco’s Island. Around the very last two decades, he centered on obtaining the new Caribbean-design and style restaurant up and working, and the tropical joint formally opened this previous March.
Paterno explained the space as pleasurable, busy, and eclectic, with massive, colorful murals of palm trees and lively patterns painted around the partitions.
“I’m just seeking to emulate what I have seasoned touring down in Florida and the Caribbean above the yrs,” Paterno said. “I’m striving to give a sense of one thing south of our border below in Iowa City with the menu and décor.”
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One particular unforeseen addition to Paterno’s typically foods-centric company ventures — he owns the Iowa Hawkeye clothing goods tents lining Melrose Avenue up to Kinnick Stadium on football match days.
Just about two many years in the past, Paterno was pals with another youthful real estate agent who owned a booth offering Hawkeye merchandise on activity days. Paterno joked that his good friend really should market it to him considering the fact that Paterno presently owned food carts — his good friend only laughed, indicating “maybe one working day.”
Rapidly ahead 17 many years afterwards to 2017, and Paterno acquired it from him, together with the booth next to his. With a motherload of Hawkeye inventory and nowhere to promote it just after soccer period, he had to figure out his next go.
On Thanksgiving Day previous year, Paterno picked up his turkey from Bread Backyard garden Current market, and transpired to drive by an vacant place on Clinton Avenue just throughout from the Pentacrest. In a pair of weeks, Paterno experienced converted the house and opened Marco’s Recreation Day in December of 2021.
“It’s sort of insane,” Paterno reported. “My bad spouse. It’s been three firms in 4 months that I’ve opened. It’s genuinely really hard.”
With all these firms throughout his occupation, Paterno stated he enjoys the problem and reward of observing his completed merchandise the most. His up coming transfer is maybe his most unexpected nevertheless.
“I’m getting a breather,” he explained.