Garron Sanchez of Martinelli’s Market and Deli

Home really was where the heart was for Garron Sanchez, general manager of Martinelli’s Market and Deli. After traveling the country working in different hotels and restaurants, Garron finally found the perfect resting spot that allowed him to use all of his talents right back where he started. This month we were lucky enough to carve a spot out of Garron’s busy day to discuss his background, Martinelli’s first year as well as curate a list of all the yummy items from Martinelli’s Market and Deli that you should be added to your MD (MUST DEVOUR for those not in the know) list this month.

Tell me about yourself and how you got involved with Martinelli's Market and Deli?

I am originally from Champaign Urbana and went to culinary school up in Chicago at Kendall College. I moved around a little bit with work and then started working for Hyatt Hotels, and they like to move you around really quickly. I went to California, and worked at a couple hotels out there, and then ended up opening up a Hyatt in Memphis, Tennessee. After Memphis, me and my partner wanted to get closer to family so we began to look, for jobs here. I came across an ad for general manager over at the Bake House, which is where I met Lauren and Jeffrey Brokish (owners of Brokish Group who own Martinelli’s Market, Pekara and CI Bakehouse). I helped out at Pekara and the Bake House a little bit before we actually got Martinelli’s off the ground. That was their main focus with bringing me on – Once they saw some of my chef background and work history they thought I’d be a good fit to run this place. So I took their ideas that they had come up with in their concept and just ran with it. It’s been a really fun experience to sort of partner with a lot of local producers and farms and I’ve been introduced to a lot of the people that they had previous relationships with like Kilgus Farms and Prairie Fruits farms. It’s been a great opportunity to get to work with a lot of cool local food products and produce tasty sandwiches and catering menus in the almost year since we have been opened.

What is your official role at Martinelli's Market and Deli and what would a "day in the life" be like?

My official title has changed a few times. I started off as a director of restaurant operations. Sort of the idea was to manage a few different outlets, which could still come with new projects, but at the moment I’m the general manager here at Martinelli’s.  The GM position here includes being the executive chef but also dealing with some of the work on the backend, like financial, scheduling, ordering and things like that. A day in the life for me looks like a lot of time spent in the kitchen! We’re still growing as we hit our one-year mark so we’re tweaking our menu and, and catering options there as well as adding new items. 

We also try to sign up for as many competitions and events locally, which has been really fun throughout the summer, and we hope to continue to do that into the fall and winter seasons. But my day mainly has me supporting the kitchen and the front of the house when we’re busy and then we’re always developing new things and working on that research and development. We do a lot of stuff in house, so we are always playing around with new recipes and just looking at ways to better promote ourselves and advertise and get our name out there. For a lot of our clients, it’s their first-time dining with us as our location’s a little off the beaten path, but I think we’ve gained a really good clientele so far and we just hope to continue to do that as we grow and find out who we are and what we can really do. 

Martinelli’s offer a little bit of everything - can you give us some recommendations of what people should order when they come in?

For lunch my favorite sandwich right now is the Cuban. Every time we put it up I just want to eat it. We got the smoked ham from Kilgus Farms and make the Porchetta in house and we’re then using some Genoa salami ,We use the white yeast bread from the Bake house, which is one of my favorite loafs that we get. I call it our semi traditional Cuban as it is  our own take on  a traditional Ybor city Cubano, which they put salami on it -which is  weird to some people – but it’s actually delicious. So definitely I would recommend that one for lunch. For dinner, definitely try one of our burgers. We have three different ones on right now. One’s sort of a take off a John T Burger, which is a southern Memphis thing that I got from my time spent there and has caramelized Worcestershire onions, American cheese and our Russian dressing, which is not traditional but we shred lettuce and actually  toss it in pickle juice, so it’s like pickled lettuce. It’s really nice on there and then you can do a build your own or a mushroom and Swiss, which is a simple garlic aioli, sauteed mushrooms.

For our bakery we have a few new fall items that we’re making in-house like our pecan sticky buns that we put a little sea salt on and a caramelized shallot with goat cheese danish. And then for our fall flavored deli side we have  a roasted butternut squash farrow salad. That one’s really tasty. You can buy all of our house roasted meats by the pound and really growing our small format retail cheeses from Prairie Fruits Farm and other surrounding states as well. We always CI Bakehouse crackers and bread that you can take home and then we have freezer that we actually stock with some house made lasagnas and pizzas that you can take and bake home that we make on our focaccia bread. So there are a a lot of fun little things that if you’re not feeling lunch, you can definitely just grab a couple ingredients to take home and have a quick, easy and tasty dinner.

Martinelli’s is located in Downtown Champaign. - What do you like best about being in downtown?

I think just the surrounding businesses. We have a lot of cool neighbors and I think it’s just a fun place to be with a cool atmosphere and great food and, and drinks. We also are able to have a parking lot here, which is a plus for Martinelli’s and for our clients as it’s an easy place to come and do their shopping and not have to worry about parking.

Martinelli’s does a ton of events- what do you have coming up for our readers to put on their radar.

We’re doing some specials at the end of this month for October Fest and then for Thanksgiving and Christmas this year I really want to try to focus on making gift baskets for people to take, as gifts and stuff for the holidays.  In the past for most holidays, we do pre-order, take and bake dinners and potentially this year I would really like to do turkeys for Thanksgiving and maybe prime rib or something for Christmas. And then we will also have sides and bread that we will be offering as sort of a quick option for people that don’t have the time to cook for the holidays.

Photo Credits

Main Photo – Hoemann Photography

Photo 1,2,3 – Champaign Center Partnership

Photo 4, 5 – Martinelli’s Market and Deli

Photo 6 – Champaign Center Partnership