Sedona AZ (June 27, 2014) – The Marketplace Café (MPC) had been in business for 15 years, tucked away in a corner of an Outlet mall, now called the Sedona Village Outlet Mall. The owners decided to sell MPC and Village resident Ken Rouse, an entrepreneur, decided to buy it. That was a little over two years ago. Suddenly, Ken was a restaurateur.
For many years, the décor of Marketplace had a Hollywood Classic Movie theme of various sizes of photographs. That theme remained for many months, until Ken’s son, Douglas Rouse, an outstanding professional artist living in Colorado Springs, came to visit Sedona to give his Dad a gift for his birthday. Douglas offered to create a mural on the wall behind the stage. It turned out to be much more. In a period of only 3 days, the wall behind the stage AND the entire wall to the left was filled with a dramatic, stunning mural of the Sedona Red Rocks. All of a sudden, the visual transformation of MPC had begun. Almost everyone who came into the restaurant was taking photos of the mural and of themselves in front of the mural.
With the hiring of Steve Kemp as General Manager, Ken began feeling a sense of what the business could become – other than a place to eat and drink. Steve became not only the expert in the kitchen and in the dining room and a leader for the staff, but a real partner sharing the vision of the owner. In addition to managing all of the musicians that perform at MPC, Ken began to utilize his own personality and background into creating special events and programs that would benefit not only the locals and visitors at the restaurant, but the community as well. He became more involved in leadership roles in the “Village” and became more aware of the many local organizations that needed help.
Along the way he enlisted the help of close friend Beverly Copen, an artist / photographer, to invite a few well respected artists to use the remaining walls of Marketplace to showcase a few pieces of their art. Slowly, the Hollywood Classic Movie photographs began to disappear – by either selling or donating them. First the local art work went up in the aptly named “Sedona Room”. MPC visualized this art as a community service, and elected to take NO commission to benefit the business. He did, however, request 15% of all pieces that sold become a donation to the selected charity. The artists were thrilled! The reception by the patrons was very supportive. Slowly, the “other room” started to transform. There remains one very large photograph of Paul Newman that everyone agreed MUST stay. And now, the “Paul Newman Lounge” is covered with a diverse exhibit of paintings, fiber art, photography, glass works, and other works of art. There is a waiting list of artists who would like to showcase their work in the “non-gallery-gallery” at MPC. The artists are part of the Marketplace family.
The special events became more important to Ken, and to the Village community organizations in need of financial help and visibility. The same time that Douglas Rouse painted the first mural he also offered to do a “speed painting” demonstration as a fund raiser. The place was packed. Douglas’s two speed paintings were auctioned off and raised about $2,000 for the charities. And so the “Acts of Kindness” began. In 2013, there were several Acts of Kindness events. Marketplace raised approximately $20,000 for the community charities such as Big Brothers Big Sisters (Ken is a Big Brother), Camp Soaring Eagle, Gardens for Humanity, Alzheimer’s Association, etc. On a very special evening at MPC, Rabbi Alicia Magal’s ninety three year old mom, Nika Kohn Fleissig, touched the hearts of a standing only room crowd with her inspirational message about how life can begin at ninety. Nika is a Holocaust survivor. The book, “From Miracle to Miracle – A Story of Survival” authored by Rabbi Alicia is the story of Nika’s life.
And now Douglas comes into play again. There was one wall left….in the Paul Newman Lounge. Ken had been asking Doug to return for about a year. On Father’s Day of 2014 Ken went to visit another son in Phoenix, Roger Rouse. What a wonderful surprise as Ken went into the home and discovered Douglas had just arrived to celebrate Father’s Day. Naturally he came up to Sedona to create and paint the remaining blank wall – another extraordinary gift to his dad. The theme was to be about wine and celebrating life. Douglas started the next morning. Two days later in the wee hours of the morning, he finished. That night at MPC was packed, and the rave reviews started pouring in.
Transformation does not happen overnight for anyone, or any business. But in this case it was the transformation of Ken’s personality and vision, combined with a giving nature and instinctive leadership qualities that created a whole different atmosphere filled with positive energy. Many locals say they love being there. It feels like a community center where things are always happening, and friendships are made or cultivated. Several regular customers feel that Marketplace is their second home. It has made a difference in their lives, and they often tell Ken, and others, how much it means to them. Indeed, he is Making a Difference.
Ken Rouse states that the slogan at MPC is “Meet me at Marketplace.”
“We are far more than just another restaurant. In addition to great food, outstanding service and unbelievably talented musicians, we are creating a “sense of community” that brings locals and tourists together in a genuine “cheers atmosphere” to CELEBRATE LIFE.”
Way to go, Ken! Ya gotta visit…but be prepared to spent the entire evening there. Excellent food, good vibes. The kind of place tourists like to find: a place where locals hangout and where they can feel at home, too.
Ken, Beverly and Steve. A dynamic trio.
Yes way to go!! Love the new look,so personal and inviting. We always love performing at The MPC thanks for having us back Tommy Dukes~ RD Olson