- The Washington Times - Sunday, September 17, 2006

Marvelous Market, a Fairfax chain of restaurants that sells gourmet food to go, plans to open up to 50 new franchise locations in the District and Virginia over the next 2 1/2 years.

Its first franchise location is scheduled to open next month on Seventh Street Southeast. After expanding in the District and Virginia, Marvelous Market hopes to open stores in Maryland, said Katie Magers, a spokeswoman for Fransmart, an Alexandria company that assists restaurant chains in franchising.

“Marvelous Market is really kind of its own niche. It’s not on a whole grocery level, but its not a 7-Eleven,” Ms. Magers said. “We call them a gourmet convenience store.”

Like many other restaurant owners, owner and Chief Executive Officer Michael Meyer touted Marvelous Market’s healthy dining options that are made from scratch and include natural ingredients — up to a point.

“Our customers don’t care about organic,” he said. “Our customers care that there are no artificial colors or flavors — that it’s real food.”

Mr. Meyer and business partner Chris Brookfield pulled the company out of bankruptcy in 1996 after it grew too quickly and took on too much debt.

“It was managed by a baker, not a business guy. It was a little more difficult than they all imagined,” Mr. Meyer said. “That’s so far in the rearview mirror, it’s a different world from us now. We’re a very different company.”

Mr. Meyer and Pascal Bouvier run it today.

U.S. Foodservicesells headquarters

U.S. Foodservice Inc., the food service distributor of Giant Food parent company Royal Ahold NV, sold its three-story headquarters building in Columbia, Md., to generate cash for its operations.

Liberty Property Trust, a Pennsylvania commercial real estate company, bought the building on Patuxent Woods Drive.

U.S. Foodservice will lease the first two floors of the building and it will remain the company’s headquarters.

Last month, two shareholders urged the Dutch company to sell its American assets — Stop & Shop/Giant-Landover, Giant-Carlisle (Pa.)/Tops and U.S. Foodservice. U.S. Foodservice appeared to be a likely target of a sale because it’s Ahold’s only American entity that is not a supermarket.

Grand openings …

• PS7, a modern American restaurant, opened last week on Seventh Street Northwest. Chef and owner Peter Smith plans to use creative ingredients such as Hen of the Woods mushrooms and popcorn in his meals.

The name comes from the chef’s name, Peter Smith, and the address, 777 Seventh St. NW.

• Three chain restaurants continue their expansion in the Washington area with new locations.

Locally owned California Tortilla plans to open a store at the Brambleton Town Center in Ashburn on Thursday. Its grand opening will feature free burritos for all lunch and dinner customers.

Moe’s Southwest Grill opened its sixth Washington area location last week on Richmond Highway in Alexandria.

Let’s Dish opened its fifth and sixth Washington-area stores on Nicholson Lane in Rockville and on Lee Highway in Fairfax.

• Retail & Hospitality appears on Mondays. Contact Jen Haberkorn at 202/636-4836 or [email protected]

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