Sharon Baumgard and Debbie Snider never owned a restaurant before, but looked at a number of opportunities and decided to open a franchise business called Del Mar's Baja Mexican in Marietta's Frontier Shopping Center.
"Everything has been real positive since we opened," said Tony Baumgard, a manager and Sharon's husband. "I am a contractor and designer and did the interior. I was hesitant at first with the colors, but it has worked out great." There are three Del Mar's in Columbus, plus the new one in Marietta. The four are the only ones in Ohio.
"I love the food," Tony Baumgard said. "It's fresh and not fattening." Del Mar's is among the new kids on the block at Frontier Shopping Center, long considered the neighborhood shopping center of Marietta, and is helping lead a healthy resurgence at the popular center.
JUSTIN MCINTOSH The Marietta Times
Workers fill a customer’s order at Del Mar’s Baja Mexican in Marietta’s Frontier Shopping Center.
Two years ago, Frontier, which is owned by Kris-Mar of Marietta and Butt Trust of Chillicothe, was in a bit of a mild tailspin. It has lately recovered with vim and vigor and a boatload of new merchants. "It was a little over two years ago, in the early summer when we had a bunch of empty storefronts," said Robert Kirkbride, Frontier Center manager. "For the economic times today, we are booming." Kirkbride, a longtime real estate manager and a former owner with Frank Christy of Lafayette Center on the other side of town, was asked by the owners of Frontier to help them out with new leases.
The rest has been pleasant history.
"The heart and soul of Frontier Center was the late Jim Christy, who died in 2000. He had been manager," Kirkbride said.
With determination to restore Frontier to its former glory days, Kirkbride set about to secure a diverse base with a good tenant mix.
"Giant Eagle had already come in and bought Big Bear and became the busiest grocery store in Washington County," he said. "We had Farm and Fleet, which is a unique niche player and has a customer base and isn't looking for a thousand customers a day."
Today, Frontier still has four stores unoccupied but Kirkbride is confident those will be filled as the economy improves.
Pam Ritchey, office manager of Faces By Design, a relatively new addition at Frontier (just over a year), said she is seeing a growing number of center customers and likes being part of the action.
"Everybody runs by McDonald's and grabs a sweet tea, then comes by the center," Ritchey said. "Frontier is very well known, but the biggest reason we moved here from Lafayette Center is lots more space."
For Amanda Peroni, manager of the new UPS Store in Frontier, a friendly atmosphere is what she appreciates most.
"It was the first shopping center in Marietta (1955)," she said. "I love our new store. We have lots of personalized services like blue prints, copies, photographic services, postal and UPS, of course."
Peroni said another newcomer is a laundromat at the end of the center.
"The center used to have a laundromat long ago. We're glad one is back," she said.