Marczyk outdoor signage with the cow logo, designed by EBD.

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February 21, 2023

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5 min read

Building A Brand That Lasts: A conversation with Ellen Bruss & Pete Marczyk

Marczyk Fine Foods is a family-owned, gourmet grocery store in Colorado and longtime client of EBD. In 2001, we started our journey with Marczyk helping them create their brand which is just as impactful today as it was then.

We were excited to sit down with Ellen Bruss and the owner of Marczyk, Pete Marczyk, to learn more about the relationship, branding process and evolution of a growing business. Together EBD and Marczyk have built a brand that has been durable over 20 years.

Image of Pete Marczyk and Ellen Bruss standing in front of the Marczyk Fine Foods cow logo designed by EBD.

Can you tell us about the early days of Marczyk?

Pete: My wife Barb and I are the co-founders of Marczyk Fine Foods. My dream was to create a world class neighborhood market, much like the ones I grew up with back east. I had a passion for food and wine, along with my buddy Steve Ells, founder of Chipotle. We would talk about ideas to make an impact on the city of Denver in a unique way, so the basis for the market concept was hatched.

I noticed many older and unique markets had started to fade. My idea was to create an independent market with a differentiated supply chain. Marczyk Fine Foods focuses on being highly curated, best in class, with an appropriate price range. I work with some of the best vendors including Bill Niman from Niman Ranch. It’s important to me that we purchase from suppliers with ethically sourced products.  

Marczyk Fine Foods became my vision for a one stop shop providing products that are high quality yet affordable. Our mission is excellence through integrity, authenticity, consistency, reliability, sustainability, and passion.

“Not everything, just everything you need.” – Pete Marczyk

How did the brand start?

Ellen: Pete’s wife was a friend of mine and I was very interested in Pete and Barb’s vision to make an impact on Denver. I knew right away that this was a brand we had to take on.

Pete: In my initial interview with Ellen, she just got it. The process and speed were there; it felt natural and organic. We ultimately shared a vision for the brand from the black and white imagery, down to the color palette.

Marczyk Fine Foods "M" logo exterior signage designed by EBD.

What was the creative process behind the brand?

Ellen: We focused on Pete’s vision of an ethnic corner butcher shop and market. The idea behind the brand was to express the tradition of the neighborhood market and also build in a history to honor that tradition. The affect has been that customers find it fresh and new, while often puzzling if they had been to it in their childhood.

“We haven’t been here forever; we just want to make it feel like we’ve been here forever.”Pete Marczyk

Pete: The illustrations, language, copy, and color palette EBD created helped us find our ground. The work that Ellen does is always the best and we want our products to be the best. The brand has held up for over 20 years and me and the team feel very comfortable in the brand skin.

“Our whole point is to channel your client’s soul, to see their vision, and put it on paper.” – Ellen Bruss

Ellen: We created a clear and consistent brand with detailed standards that the Marczyk internal team could easily follow. We continue to support the Marczyk brand by coming on for special projects, such as packaging for their best-selling Olive Oil and Coffee line. Whether it is art direction or training someone in-house, we are there to help maintain the brand at its core.

How has the brand grown with the business?

Pete: In our stores we offer Market Made and Market Pick goods. The Market Made items are some of our most important products. These products are our fresh bread, sides, and ice cream that are truly made from scratch with love from people who care. EBD’s help in branding these lines has been a huge success with growing the business.

Marczyk Fine Foods "Market Made" bread wall with packaging deigned by EBD.

Ellen: The Marczyk team does an amazing job keeping the brand’s core intact. In crafting the brand, we focused on ensuring it was flexible and easy for the team to grow with. Specifically, in the development of the Market Made and Market Pick naming and packaging. The names aim to differentiate the items that are made in house vs the curated selections. The labels for these lines were designed to be easily altered by the Marczyk team to make room for their growing and changing supply.

Marczyk Fine Foods Market Made trail mix and mixed nut snacks with packaging deigned by EBD.

Pete: Our Market Pick goods are products that we buy wholesale from outstanding small vendors. The labels EBD designed for these products are on brand with Marczyk but don’t hide the partnering vendors. We wanted our packing to be honest and acknowledge our vendors.

The Market Pick olive oil is a fan favorite selling at 200 bottles a week. EBD worked on the labeling, copy and bottle selection for this Olive Oil that we have produced in Spain and shipped back to us. The olive oil is now the number one gross profit item out of our entire grocery set of a single item. 

Marczyk Fine Foods Olive oil and baguettes with packaging designed by EBD.

Ellen: In 2016, Marczyk’s came to us to rebrand their coffee line. We took a great product that was no longer preforming and gave it a fresh look which attracted coffee lovers whose purchases were driven by design-forward packaging.

Marczyk Fin Foods coffee line "Solidarity Blend" on a red background with the four different coffee blend icons on the left hand side all designed by EBD.

Pete: This new packaging brought a sense of humor with unique names and copy that our in-house team created to match the creative EBD worked on.

“Our coffee line moved to the top SKU in the market with this packaging.” – Pete Marczyk  

Marczyk Fine Foods four coffee line blends in a row with packaging deigned by EBD.

Final thoughts.

EBD is so proud to be a part of Marczyk’s amazing growth and evolution over the years. We take pride in working to design brands that will withstand a changing commercial market.

“I have a lot of pride in our brand. How it looks and how it feels. The way it’s perceived in the marketplace. It achieved what we were after and then some. I always say, leave a footprint bigger than your shoe size and you really helped us do that.” – Pete Marczyk

When you’re in Denver, Marczyk Fine Foods is a must have stop. The fresh variety of Market Made soups, salads, entrees, and sides are perfect for an easy dinner or spread for your friends to indulge on special occasions. For our bread lovers, check out the artisan bread of the month made by hand daily. Don’t forget to top it off with something sweet from the bakery or grab a pint of Marczyk Bros. Ice Cream.