The new owner of Bend’s Marz Bistro is promising to take the landmark restaurant “back to its roots.”
Ubiquitous restaurateur Gavin McMichael opened the remodeled Minnesota Street eatery during October’s First Friday ‘art walk’ celebration, adding to an eclectic mix of locations under his ownership, including nearby downtown hotspots The Blacksmith and Bourbon Street.
McMichael acquired the business from previous proprietor Matt Davis, who is moving on to develop a line of food products for the commercial market such as rubs and marinades featured on the menu during his five-year tenure.
The pair will also work together via McMichael’s sales company Tamarack Foods, which already supplies to local retailers including Newport Market, Whole Foods and Ray’s.
Originally named Marz, a Planetary Bistro the restaurant is acknowledged as launching a new urban direction when it landed on Bend’s dining scene in 1999.
McMichael also operates a consulting business and was helping develop new ideas when Davis, who was looking at exploring new horizons, suggested a possible changing of hands.
McMichael said: “When the opportunity arose, I jumped at it.
“Marz pioneered a more ‘metro’ niche which was the biggest departure in the local industry at the time.
“It is a piece of the town’s history and I am working to take it back to its original roots in making it more international in style with the kind of ‘street food’ and small plates currently popular across the country.
“We will retain a lot of the same dishes and continue the successful formula, but also expand the repertoire and return to the original concept, which I think will please a lot of Marz loyalists.”
McMichael has owned The Blacksmith Restaurant, which has a seating capacity of 200, since 2003 and opened Bourbon Street Sea & Soul Food in July. Following the takeover, Marz, which can seat around 50, will continue to operate seven days a week, from 5pm to close.
He said: “Marz fits in strategically with the other restaurants as they are complimentary and all have their own niche regarding food, atmosphere and price points’ etcetera. There is also the opportunity for cross-marketing and economies of scale.
“They are all different, and, for example, Bourbon Street has been a great hit, with three different meal periods and a lot of different people coming in for different reasons.
“We have a lot of specials running there like express business breakfasts or Monday night football and are bringing in a large screen 65-inch TV for the side room, so, for example, you can come in on a Sunday morning and get a five or six dollar breakfast while watching the games.
“We are pretty well diversified, which is effectively a kind of hedge against fluctuations in the market.
McMichael said he believes Bend is transitioning to a ‘new economy’ requiring a fresh, lean approach in executing more efficiently.
“You have to have a well thought out, well forecast, written business plan which can be continually fine tuned,” he observed. “You have to be adaptable and flexible, but also can’t work with just a loose framework any longer.”
McMichael sees his diversification including restaurant operations, consultancy and the Tamarack Foods venture –a Cajun blend, Begnier mix, cocktail sauce and spice blends which will retail out of a small area of Bourbon Street – as key in navigating through the recent recession towards a secure future.
Marz Bistro, 163 NW Minnesota Avenue, Bend, 541- 389-2025