|January 7, 2016||Comments Closed|
The Market Square shopping center at 4700 Bosque Blvd., across from the Extraco Events Center, is undergoing renovations that will make it an upscale hideaway where the public can buy fine jewelry, plan an exotic trip, have a drink or dine on Italian food indoors or near a bubbling outdoor fountain.
Long known as Marketplace Shopping Center and the home of Cafe Cappuccino, an award-winning brunch destination, the owners have changed the name and found a new anchor tenant, Moroso Wood Fired Pizzeria, to replace the popular cafe that relocated last year to Richland Drive.
Veteran tenants such as Kindler’s Gem Jewelers, Hemingway’s Watering Hole, Waco’s All About Travel, Stylus & Co. Hair Designs and ABC School of Massage remain at The Market Square, but the remodel is creating 3,000 square feet of additional space that Brad Harrell with Harrell & Associates is marketing.
“We would love to have a bakery in there and maybe some small office space,” Harrell said. “Once we get Moroso’s open and the outside revamped, I think we’ll have a good amount of interest. It will be an upscale center, and we will pursue tenants that fit the description.”
Harrell said he thinks Moroso will become a hit with visitors wanting a unique and relaxing dining experience.
The proprietor, Dan Moroso, has moved from Miami Beach, Florida, to Waco, where his wife, Robyn Scott Moroso, has relatives. He said he contracted to have a wood-fired brick oven crafted by a company called Marra Forni in Washington, D.C. It now is being stored on the East Coast awaiting shipment to Waco.
“We hope to get open around March 15,” Moroso said.
He said his contractor expects completion by March 1, and the extra two weeks provide a time cushion. Moroso said the oven weighs more than 2 tons and with its customized styling and various “bells and whistles,” represents an investment of just under $20,000.
Moroso said he wants to create a family atmosphere that will feature a large “community table,” at which diners from different groups can enjoy pizza or other Italian dishes such as pasta, salads, Italian sandwiches, mozzarella and desserts. A chandelier will hover above customers.
The pizza and hospitality, Moroso said, will create a dining experience visitors might find in quaint pizzerias in Italy.
Moroso said he had a career producing both radio and television broadcasts that included commercials and movie trailers for the small screen.
“I’ve lived and worked all over the world, but I’ve been visiting my in-laws in China Spring for 15 years. Every time I left to go back to Miami, I felt as if I were leaving home,” he said. “We think it looks like the ideal community should look. We decided to move here and make a contribution.”
For more than two years, Moroso said, he flew from Miami to Waco in search of the ideal location for his pizzeria. He finally chose the aging but classy Marketplace Shopping Center, which has become The Market Square as Moroso and center owner C&N Assets collaborated to restore its former glory.
Kristen Jones, spokeswoman for C&N Assets and its principal, Hayward Taylor, said crews have installed a new roof on the complex, renovated the fountain, installed new lighting fixtures and made improvements to the parking lot. Much of the center’s exterior has been stripped to accommodate a fresh look.
He and the owners “wanted to re-create that iconic little upscale shopping center that used to be there 30 or 40 years ago.”
The pizzeria has received a wine and beer license and will seat 84, though some patrons may want to sit outside near the fountain.
“Oh, my God, we are so excited,” said Gerda McGregor, who owns and operates Kindler’s Gem Jewelers with her daughters, Tammi Barrett and Jan Skopik. “The new restaurant is going to be neat and create a whole different atmosphere. They’re talking about making their own cheese, having tables outside and music going.
“It’s going to be lovely, lighthearted and cool. I’m sure it will become such an asset.”
McGregor said she has sold jewelry in the center since 1976 and she can remember when there was a one- to two-year waiting list for lease space.
Offbeat shops with names like Rock Bottom, Prefontaine and Bunny Run attracted shoppers looking for products a cut above the ordinary.
“It seems now everyone is gravitating toward Central Texas Marketplace at Highway 6 and Interstate 35, and I’ve mentioned to customers that I might need to move,” McGregor said. “But they look me in the eye and say, ‘Don’t you dare move.’ And you know what they say. A happy customer stays for life.”
McGregor said she takes trips to Las Vegas to buy her jewelry, “and I don’t have 10 pieces alike like some places.”
“I buy one from this vendor, another from that vendor,” she said with a laugh. “I can truly say my selection is unique.”
Again she thought out loud about what the center will become, visualizing the flowers, benches and tea-room atmosphere.
“I think it will kind of remind people of the better days of Salado,” McGregor said, mentioning the Bell County village on the interstate brimming with antique shops.
Nita “Kay” Walker, an instructor at ABC School of Massage, said she’s impressed with what she’s hearing about the center’s new look and the restaurant on the way.
“I think the change will bring more business to everyone here and possibly bring us more students,” Walker said.
Dale Knight, who now owns three Cafe Cappuccino locations in the Waco area, said he left Bosque Boulevard because he needed more room to accommodate the growing crowds that enjoy his breakfast and lunch selections. He now has 3,600 square feet compared to 2,000 square feet at the old location.
“I’ve seen what they’re doing over there, and it definitely will be an eye-opener for curb appeal,” Knight said, speaking of the place he left.