At the corner of Butler and Front Streets in downtown Marietta, a historic building has been quietly renovated, in preparation for the next chapter of its long life. In recent months, the community has waited in anticipation as the building’s windows have offered glimpses of its transformation. This week, the space behind those windows is bustling with activity while Teri Misener-McKenna and her staff prepare for the soft opening of McKenna’s Market.
Stepping into the store from Front Street, one immediately appreciates the historic ambiance of the renovated space. Original wood floors, charming bistro tables and antique décor that pays homage to Marietta’s river heritage all contribute to the feeling that you’ve stepped back in time. The history and beauty of the building are what Teri fell in love with, even though the building had not even been listed for sale when she discovered it.
“I love these old buildings, they have so much potential, so much to give,” she said.
We fell in love with Marietta – its history, its tourism industry, the vibrant downtown and the friendly people.
The McKenna family has been in the deli business in Ohio since the 1970s, with markets in downtown Cambridge, Historic Roscoe Village, downtown Newark and near West Lafayette. They weren’t really looking for another location until a birthday surprise changed everything. Teri explained, “I brought my parents to Marietta for an 87th birthday gift. We stayed at the Lafayette Hotel, ate dinner at Austyn’s and enjoyed a cruise on the Valley Gem. We fell in love with Marietta – its history, its tourism industry, the vibrant downtown and the friendly people.”
Tim Glover, Marietta Main Street board member and a regular customer at the Cambridge store, told Teri about available spaces in Marietta. She looked at several, but none of them seemed right for a market. She and her brother Bobby started a file on Marietta, but they didn’t want their father to know they were considering a fifth location. They named the file “Mary Etta” so he would think it was regarding a contract with their bridal shop. When it seemed they would not find the right location after all, Teri’s realtor started contacting building owners, asking if any were interested in selling. It just so happened that Sarah Dye, owner of Top Drawer Furniture and Design Studio, was thinking of moving her business to a smaller building. Teri was invited to tour Sarah’s building, and she knew right away it was meant to be.
“The building was built for the Freemasons in the 1890s, and the third floor was their ballroom,” she said. “I saw those high tin ceilings, and I was sold.”
The third floor is being renovated for the family’s own space, but the second floor has three apartments – two of which will be available as AirBnBs. It’s been nearly three years since the building was purchased, and Teri can tick off a long list of obstacles that created delays in opening. From surprise structural problems to contractor issues to worker shortages and a global pandemic, the family dealt with setbacks while operating their other locations. The blighted building adjacent to theirs on Butler Street was purchased and demolished to create a courtyard; future plans include a full outdoor dining and gathering space.
Marietta has the best elements of all our other locations, in one place. The history, the tourism, the great vibe of downtown – it’s a great place.
Fast forward to the present, and McKenna’s Market is ready to open its doors and welcome the community. The gleaming cases are filled with fresh Amish meats and cheeses, locally-sourced artisanal foods, bulk foods and snacks, and imported meats and cheeses. Antique cabinets are filled with hot sauces, jams and jellies, condiments, coffees and teas, chocolates and even retro style candies. An antique claw foot tub filled with bags of noodles is backed by an entire wall of unusual soda pops.
McKenna’s has gained a reputation for delicious subs and sandwiches and the menu is tantalizing. Asked what their most popular sub is, Maxx was quick to answer. “McKenna’s Favorite – it’s an Italian sub with three meats, a four cheese blend and choice of toppings,” he said.
Maxx echoes Teri when he explains why Marietta seemed like the perfect choice for the new location. “Marietta has the best elements of all our other locations, in one place. The history, the tourism, the great vibe of downtown – it’s a great place.”
He is proud of the new store, and it is apparent watching the staff filling shelves and discussing details that they share that pride. The modern fixtures and the vintage elements mesh to create a cool, eclectic space that will surely become a popular lunch spot. The antique counter came from another McKenna property, the 1850 Newark building that had been a hotel speakeasy in a previous life. “I like to bring a piece of one store to another store when we renovate,” says Teri. “Some of the glass from this building will be incorporated into our renovation of the West Lafayette market.”
I’m excited to join the Front Street family and we hope to be another great downtown destination that locals and tourists can enjoy.
Although the opening of McKenna’s Market in Marietta is demanding all her time right now, Teri already has plans for future additions to the store. “We are setting up an area for coffee, and we have plans for a large wine shop with more seating.”
For now, all hands are on deck and the new staff is being trained while the last minute touches are being applied. According to store manager Jessie Etter, store hours will be 10:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 12:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m. on Sundays.
Jessie is excited for the public to finally see the store. “It’s been such a long process and I know people are as anxious for us to open as we are to get started,” she said. “I’m excited to join the Front Street family and we hope to be another great downtown destination that locals and tourists can enjoy.”
When McKenna’s Market opens its doors to downtown Marietta, there will be little fanfare for now. But there is no doubt that word will spread quickly, and soon the space will be filled with eager customers and happy diners. The wait is over, and visitors will agree that McKenna’s Market was definitely worth the wait.