Marco Polo Restaurant Changing Ownership after 21 years
SALEM- Marco Polo Global Restaurant is changing hands after 21 years.
Owners Jackey and Cathay Cheung recently retired and have handed the reigns over to longtime employee Patty Pakulak.
Pakulak was an employee for 12 years under the Cheungs before being approached to take over as new owner.
“I’ve been in it for so long and my dad owned a restaurant where I worked for him for several years,” Pakulak said. “I do enjoy cooking and the customer service aspect. I also really like getting to know my customers and connecting with them and making sure that they have a nice time.”
The restaurant is a mixture of Chinese, American, and European dishes and includes options that are gluten-free, vegetarian, and vegan. Since its opening in 2001, its location has been a gateway to downtown Salem residents driving down Liberty Street.
“I was one of the longer employees that worked here, and I think it was because I worked with them for so long and their vision of serving the community, especially with their restrictive menus,” Pakulak said. We keep things safe for gluten-free people to eat. I have so many regular customers, it was the right fit as far as continuing on their legacy of what they’ve built over the years.”
This will be Pakulak’s first foray into restaurant ownership, but she’s excited about the challenge and to keep things the same.
“I really want to continue on what they built because it’s such a wonderful business,” Pauklak said. “Everything is basically the same. All the cooks stayed, all the staff stayed, I’m keeping the same name and tradition. It’s been very positive, there are so many people that are grateful and not changing.”
Getting through the pandemic was the first major hurdle for the former restaurant owners, but it helped expedite their desire to retire.
The lunch crowd is still making their way back to the pre-pandemic levels with a lot of loyal and regular customers helping keep the business afloat.
Fan favorites such as General Tso’s chicken and Raspberry Pistachio Chicken will remain unchanged.
“We make the pot stickers in-house and with the garlic green beans, you can choose your protein,” Pakulak said. “The chicken parmesan is hand-breaded each day, so people really like that.”
With so many options, Pakulak hopes new customers will give Marco Polo a try.
“All the dishes are made to order so everything is adjustable for dietary restrictions,” Pakulak said. “If someone doesn’t like Chinese food, they can come in and get some pasta.”