Jeff and Sarah Schwenker are poised for success as they look to open their own Downtown Rochester eatery.
With a combined 35 years of restaurant experience between them, Jeff and Sarah Schwenker are poised for success as they look to open their own Downtown Rochester eatery.
The local couple will open Marrow next month at 332 Broadway Ave. S., with a seasonal, ingredient-driven menu utilizing classic French technique with a touch of humor and fun.
“It’s been something that has been on our mind for a long time,” Sarah said. “We moved to Rochester in 2017 with the intent to start the process. We saw what was going on in Rochester and thought it would be a great opportunity to bring our ideas down here.”
“We’ve dreamt of a similar space for a very long time,” Jeff added. “It’s pretty cool to see it coming together. It’s the size and style we were going for.”
Marrow will seat 40 in its 1,600 square foot space. With exposed brick and wood floors, the comfortable space will be a welcome retreat for guests wanting to spice up their every day.
The couple looked at a few spaces in Rochester, but it wasn’t until they saw their current space that they knew they’d found ‘it.’ “When we came here, we knew it was the right spot,” Sarah said. “It’s an old building with so much character and was exactly what we were looking for.”
Previously home to Patterson Dahlberg Law Office, it was difficult for the couple to see at first how a law office could be transformed into their dream restaurant. But envision they did and with the help of an architect, they started the process. Now it’s 90 percent done.
They started building out in October and are excited to see the space take shape. “I would say we instantly fell in love with the space and the potential of the space,” Sarah said.
Jeff’s forte is definitely in the kitchen, and he’ll be head chef at Marrow He attended Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts in the Twin Cities, finishing in 2008.
Sarah’s strength is in the front of the house, she said, and that’s where she’ll manage and lead
their team. They know their food is popular as they had a successful pop-up in the basement of
Grand Rounds from 2018 to 2020. After that, Jeff worked at Bleu Duck in Rochester and then he
took a break from cooking to concentrate on developing our first concept. Sarah has previously worked at Pittsburgh Blue in Rochester.
Prior to working at eateries in Rochester, both worked at restaurants in the metro area and together have amassed 35 years of working in the restaurant business.
For Marrow, they wanted a “small, cozy and intimate space,” Sarah said. “Those are the dining experiences we have really enjoyed, so we wanted our space to reflect that as well.”
Jeff adds that he wants Marrow to have a “homey” feel, which he thinks it will.
Their marriage has provided the ideal foundation for them to go into business together, the couple agreed. “We complement each other,” Jeff said.
“We really work very well together,” Sarah added. “I think we balance each other out. We both have the passion for this industry and we’re really, really lucky that not only are we married but we are good friends. We’re passionate and we want to share that passion with the community.”
Their menu will rotate often with seasonality, what they get for ingredients and what is “inspiring us at the moment,” Jeff said. “It will be heavy in French technique but I wouldn’t call it a French restaurant.” Sarah champions Jeff and says he’s classically French trained and will offer Marrow diners bold flavors and interesting ingredients that he will showcase in an exciting way.
Jeff’s current menu favorite is the lamb neck, and Sarah loves the Marrow bone, which she said is a fun, flavorful dish served with a side of cheddar biscuits.
Both Rochester natives, the couple said downtown is going through a lot of changes, and they’re eager to be a part of that. “Our culinary scene is growing, and about to jump off,” Sarah said. “We are just really excited to be a part of the things happening Downtown.”