Marco’s has been a Multnomah Village staple
for more than 30 years. Here’s a little more about our story.
How did Marco’s get started?
Multnomah Village’s historic Nelson Thomas Building, which Marco’s calls home, was originally built as the Thomas Bungalow Grocery in 1913. This historic edifice included the first Multnomah Post Office, and was also used as a Masonic Lodge and dance hall. With an architectural style classified as “streetcar era commercial,” the Thomas building has, over the years, housed an appliance store, junk store, plant shop, resale shop, and eventually several bakeries from the 1950s through the 1980s. In 1983, new owners Mark and Helga Saitowitz opened the doors to Marco’s Café and Espresso Bar for the first time.
Local restaurateur Peter Zych and CPA Dean Rothenfluch purchased both the business and building in 1989. They’ve maintained much of the menu and ambiance of the original Marco's, popular with locals for its eclectic mix of dinner specials that changed nightly, as well as the beloved Thursday ritual of mulligatawny, a creamy curried vegetable soup with apples. Peter decided to pursue other interests in 1995, and Dean and his wife Debra have run the restaurant ever since. Along the way, the historic building has seen major renovations in 1992 and 1995, with a rebuilt foundation, and completely remodeled kitchen and dining room.
To this day, Marco’s remains a genuine “neighborhood café,” providing a place for locals, neighbors, merchants, and visitors to enjoy a variety of thoughtfully sourced and prepared dishes in a cozy space.
What’s up with the umbrellas?
The first thing you’ll notice when you step into Marco’s is our iconic umbrella-covered ceiling. (No, we don’t have a leaky roof.) Aside from adding some quintessentially eclectic Portland flair, the umbrellas serve a practical purpose, as well. The Nelson Thomas Building is a historic treasure…with high, hard ceilings; it can get LOUD when the dining room is full. The umbrellas help—kind of like noise-dampening panels, only way more conversation-inducing.
Perhaps more importantly, though, the umbrellas help remind us and our patrons that not everyone can afford to eat out, or in some cases to eat at all. How? Every umbrella was donated by a Marco’s employee or customer, and for every umbrella we provide 10 meals for the homeless in our community through St. Francis Dining hall in SE Portland.
This effort is near and dear to our hearts, and will remain an ongoing part of the Marco’s experience. So bring in your favorite—or, then again, maybe second favorite—umbrella on your next visit, and we’ll have it hanging from the ceiling soon!