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Marshall Street's latest addition marks a shift away from its small business nature

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Following acquisitions from Syracuse University and corporations, Marshall Street has undergone a transformation from its typically small business oriented character.

This summer, the university acquired several properties along South Cruz Avenue, including Varsity Pizza and Feggan’s Pub, for $12 million. Liberty Restaurant Holdings, a chain restaurant franchise that owns and operates 40 fast-food restaurants, including 29 Popeyes Louisiana Kitchens, entered into his 20-year lease of the building that previously housed Acropolis Pizza in August 2021. signed.

Peter Mavrikidis, the family owner of Acropolis Pizza’s home at 167 Marshall St. for over 40 years, will remain the owner of the building after Acropolis Pizza’s closure.

Heidi Cousineau, vice president of development at Liberty Restaurant Holdings, hopes to open a store on Marshall Street for some time through an agreement with Popeyes to build 40 restaurants in upstate New York over the next three to four years. The company said it knew it was thinking. .

Cousineau said it was not a difficult decision to contact Mavrikidis immediately when he put the building up for sale.

“It was a great place and not necessarily the easiest process,” says Cousineau. “We wanted to go to Marshall Street. When we’re on Marshall Street, it’s like ‘A’ real estate, so we take what we can get.” “

Following the closure of other small businesses on Marshall Street, such as Dawn Evette Reed’s Winnie’s Soul Delicious, some community members are concerned about the growing presence of corporate businesses and chain restaurants.

Eric Hicks, manager of J. Michael Shoes, said a business presence can help the area, but Marshall Street doesn’t have the local charm it once had.

“I’m a little conflicted because I grew up here. Having grown up here and living on the streets since I was 15, I miss the mom and pop elements,” Hicks said. “And it’s more corporatized than it used to be, in my opinion, so I missed that factor.”

Despite his reservations, Hicks said corporate facilities bring business to the area and are essential during low-traffic periods. Yes, but they closed in June.

“It was pretty bad that both spots were closed over the summer,” Hicks said. “I’m thrilled that both spots are opening again. Like I said, regardless of who’s there,[it]was pretty brutal with no traffic at either location.

In January, Cousineau submitted an application for a special permit to the Syracuse City Zoning Authority. His late February application, approved by the City Planning Commission, includes construction and design plans for the building, which will be approved by Popeyes on September 17, 2021.

Photo of Popeye's eclectic design

The new Popeyes Marshall Street location will be one of four “eclectic” design type locations in the United States. Mockup courtesy of Liberty Restaurant Holdings

The restaurant’s design will be one of four “eclectic” design-type locations in the United States, Cousineau said. She said the Marshall Street location was chosen as a pilot for the design, along with her one in New Orleans and her two in New York City. The number of places with unique designs will remain small, she added.

“[The owner’s]hometown of New Orleans is going to be one[‘eclectic’ design location]but Syracuse University is another, so all eyes of the Popeyes companies will be on this one.” “And while this whole eclectic design is meant for urban, downtown college campus appeal, what’s on college campuses at the moment is the domestic.” It’s the only one.”

Varsity Pizza night manager Matthew Robinson said the restaurant is going nowhere.

After the SU acquisition, Robinson reassured staff that ownership of Varsity Pizza would only mean a stronger relationship with SU, with the change in ownership of the building not affecting the restaurant’s operations. I said I let you. If anything, he said the purchase works to prevent anyone else from buying the building.

“If someone gets it, it’s (SU),” Robinson said. “The strong relationships we’ve built here, the traditions that happen in both places,[it]makes sense.”

Robinson said the exit of the small business wouldn’t really affect Varsity Pizza. Cousineau said he recognizes and appreciates the community’s concerns about the changing small business culture in the area.

“At the end of the day, it’s a fast-food chain restaurant, but all I can say is[Liberty]is a small, family-run business and I want you to feel that community,” she said. . “We’re franchisees who open a lot of stores and don’t care where we are. We want to be fully integrated and involved with the community.”

Cousineau added that he believes the new design will make the restaurant more special and less of a “conventional” franchise or “prototype.” Hopefully, that aspect of the establishment will ease anxiety in the community, she continued.

Still, there are concerns about a 20-year lease.

“(Twenty years) is a long time considering the way change has happened in the last five or so years,” Hicks said.

Contact Jana: [email protected] | | @JanaLoSeal