MARIETTA, Ga.– The city of Marietta is one of the most rapidly-developing cities in Cobb County, due mainly to large social and economic development projects in the downtown square and surrounding region.
Among these projects is the upcoming Marietta Square Market, a large food destination similar to Atlanta’s Ponce City Market, as well as the establishment of the square’s first craft beer brewery. Outside the square, in the Franklin Gateway Corridor, large corporate investment projects are rapidly changing what used to be a small town into a bustling economic center.
The shape of Marietta Square and the surrounding region may be developing similarly to that of a major city like Atlanta, but residents and business owners in the area want to maintain the charm of a small town. Still, according to Marietta City Manager Bill Bruton, much of the success of the city’s economy is due to visitors from the outside.
“The more buzz you create and the more individuals we have from out of town, it’s going to benefit everybody,” Bruton said. “We’re feeling really good about our direction right now in the Atlanta Metro.”
The Atlanta Regional Commission designated Marietta as a “regional activity center” in 2000, granting the city $5 million in federal funds over five years as part of the Envision Marietta Livable Centers Initiative, an economic master plan that the Marietta City Council adopted in 2001 to develop the downtown and in-town areas. According to Bruton, the focus of the project being the development of the city as a social and economic destination was determined by community outreach to local residents and business owners.
“We try to get everyone involved to get an idea of the direction people want their community to go,” Bruton said. “I think part of our job with the downtown development is to create a destination that is interesting for folks who want to come here for the experience.”
The Envision Marietta plan attempted to address the land use, demographics, housing, transportation and economic development of the city, as well as concerns regarding environmental responsibility and cultural diversity that often come with the “gentrification” of a region. To ensure public satisfaction with the plan over time, it was reviewed and updated once in 2005 and again in 2010.
Marietta Square Market
Most of the tenants already announced to be opening locations within Marietta Square Market are owned by successful Georgia business owners, some of which already operate other restaurants on the square. According to project developer Ed Lee of Capital Properties Group LLC, the original tenants were curated to create the look and feel of an old train station.
“When we first conceived Marietta Square Market we reached out to several local operators to see if they would have an interest in this project,” Lee said. “Once the word got out, it has been a combination of internal marketing efforts and outside initiative by other food operators to achieve the unique mix of tenants that we are working toward.”
Tiny Bubbles Tea Bar has served award-winning tapioca bubble tea, Vietnamese coffee and small sweets since 2015, and has already become a popular attraction of Marietta Square. After recently opening their second location in Woodstock Square, mother-daughter owners Felicia Prezzano and Brielle Gaines announced they would open an additional location inside Marietta Square Market.
“Without being a part of the market, I would be a little concerned and see it as competition,” Gaines said. “I also know how many new people it’s going to bring into our city on a more regular basis. If you can’t beat’em, join’em!”
To make the Market location a new and exclusive experience for loyal fans of Tiny Bubbles, the menu will feature unique spins on the products sold in the Marietta location. The original location will remain open on the square.
Other restaurants included in Marietta Square Market’s initial opening, according to its website, include:
- Forno Pizza: A wood-fired Neapolitan pizza joint offering more than 30 beers on draft, from prominent Marietta Square business owners Scott Kinsey and Alexis Aleshire-Kinsey. Their current restaurants, Taqueria Tsunami, Stockyard Burgers and Bones and Pressed Panini Bar, are among the most popular and successful on the square.
- Street Taco: Authentic Mexican street food and cocktails, including tacos and grilled corn, from Southern Proper Hospitality. The prominent Atlanta food company is known for quality Latin-inspired food projects including Tin Lizzy’s Cantina, Beni’s Cubana, Chido + Padre’s and others.
- Grand Champion BBQ: This will be the fifth location of the popular Georgia barbecue restaurant and caterer.
- Top Poke: Korean-inspired cuisine, including barbecue wings, dumplings and noodle dishes, as well as sushi-grade raw fish and rice bowls.
- Pita Mediterranean Street Food : Casual Mediterranean chain offering shawarma and gyro sandwiches, with handmade falafels and hummus.
- Bread + Butter Bakery: Bakery and cafe with breakfast, pastries and coffee, as well as a small lunch and dinner menu.
- Tadoori Square: Traditional Indian street food.
- Momo Son Ramen: Ramen noodles.
Marietta Square Market will have enough space for about 12 businesses, so this is not an exhaustive list before the grand opening this fall. To keep up to date with new restaurants opening inside the Market, visit its website and follow announcements on its Facebook page.
The address for the Market is 68 N. North Marietta Parkway N.W., Marietta.
Glover Park Brewery
Marietta Square’s first craft beer brewing facility is on track to open sometime this summer. Glover Park Brewery, named for the iconic green space in the center of the square, will feature a large social event space and beer made fresh from the heart of Marietta.
“We’re trying to bring that small town feel back to the city,” said Hank DuPre, co-founder of Glover Park Brewery. “People moved away because their entertainment was in Atlanta or elsewhere. We’re hoping to be part of a new wave of attractions in our city.”
Dupre and his business partner Sam Rambo grew up as friends together in Marietta. They said they have no experience in brewing beer, other than drinking a lot of it, but as businessmen they felt the need to jump into the booming industry after the passing of brewing legislation last year.
“We’re different than distribution-focused breweries in the area because we will be putting more focus on attracting customers to the taproom itself,” Rambo said. “We want to create an environment for people to feel comfortable enjoying themselves and each other, whether they’re watching a game or just chatting with friends. There are some bars like that in the area already but our beer will be better because it’ll be fresh.”
Outside the Square
The success of Marietta’s internal economy is blossoming out from its downtown area, attracting investors and businesses from Atlanta. According to Bruton, the success of developments in the square has spread to the surrounding regions.
“We’ve been able to have an amazing impact on economic development by taking land that the city was able to purchase and redevelop it to benefit the community,” Bruton said.
The city of Marietta has pushed development in the Franklin Gateway Corridor, an area just southeast of the square which Bruton said has suffered economically in recent years. The Atlanta United FC soccer club opened its $60 million Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta training facility there in mid-April, and plans for the area include a Drive Shack golf center and a large IKEA store. Bruton said that investment in the Franklin Gateway Corridor has improved economic development, and greatly reduced crime and safety concerns in the area.
“If someone from out of town visits one of our attractions, they are likely to see other things that our city has to offer and want to visit again in the future,” Bruton said. “There’s an awful lot going on in the city and we’re feeling real positive about the future.”