Marco’s Grilled Cheese to add new locations in 2023

The restaurant will expand to Coralville and an Iowa City First Avenue location later this year.


Shuntaro Kawasaki

A sign inside Marco’s Grilled Cheese is seen on Friday, Feb. 3, 2023.

Natalie Miller, News Reporter

The locally-loved Marco’s Grilled Cheese restaurant in Iowa City is adding two new locations on First Avenue in Iowa City and in Coralville this year.

The Coralville restaurant will take over the spot once held by Pita Pit on 517 2nd St.

The business started with just one mobile food cart in 2000, which could often be found on the Iowa City Pedestrian Mall. The business has since progressed to three food carts, including Paco’s Tacos and George’s Best Gyros – which are used for catering – and a permanent shop in Iowa City’s north side located at 117 N. Linn St.

Mark Paterno, the owner of Marco’s Grilled Cheese, told The Daily Iowan that he plans on opening a third location on First Avenue in Iowa City along with the newest location in Coralville. Paterno said he originally did not see himself adding new locations to the area.

“It’s going to slow me down a bit, but I wasn’t necessarily looking to expand,” Paterno said. “I’m at the point in my life now where, if we’re going to expand, let’s do it.”

Paterno said the new locations will be a nice addition for people searching for food later at night who are near the Coralville area.

Currently, the Iowa City Marco’s Grilled Cheese location is open at the following times:

  • 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. on Sundays
  • 5 p.m. to 2 a.m. Mondays through Thursdays
  • 11 a.m. to 2:30 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays

Paterno said the new locations will have similar hours.

“We are catered more towards a late-night palette,” Paterno said. “If you’re looking for food past 10 p.m. in Coralville, your options are limited.”

Paterno said the menus at the Coralville location and the new Iowa City location will be slightly smaller than the north side location’s menu. The north side menu has an array of options for customers to choose from:

  • Twelve types of grilled cheese sandwiches
  • Street and walking tacos
  • Six kinds of quesadillas
  • Ten types of warm sandwiches
  • Six kinds of burgers
  • Four kinds of hot dogs
  • Nine types of hot sandwiches and hoagies
  • Various soups, salads, snacks, and sides
  • Vegan and gluten-free options

Paterno said he is reducing the menu at the new locations to ensure both restaurants run smoothly.

“The downtown menu is huge … It’s enormous,” Paterno said, “So, these two new menus are going to be slightly smaller just to be more streamlined and efficient.”

RELATED: Marco’s Grilled Cheese food cart adds walk-in restaurant

Additionally, Paterno said he is considering adding his own delivery service with the new locations instead of using a delivery service app to take food to customers.

Coralville City Councilor Mike Knudson wrote in an email to the DI that he was unaware of the new location but is excited to see what it brings to Coralville.

“I am always happy when new businesses come to Coralville, and of course I hope Marco’s does well,” he wrote.

Coralville City Councilor Laurie Goodrich also wrote in an email that she was unaware of the new location coming to Coralville.

Paterno said he will be working on both of the new locations simultaneously and hopes to open them later this spring. He said he has people working on the technical aspects in both buildings.

“I’m still waiting for timelines from those guys, so I don’t know yet. I’m hoping in April,” Paterno said.