Marco Polo’s Marketplace — Busch Gardens

Project Overview

  • Large-scale restaurant renovation
  • Interior and exterior redesign complete with expansion

When a restaurant needed to broaden its menu, GuernseyTingle opened up a world of possibilities.

Marco Polo’s Marketplace began as a renovation of the existing Ristorante Della Piazza located in the San Marco hamlet at Busch Gardens Williamsburg. The original cafeteria-style serving model from 1979 was outdated and lacking in story. Additionally, an outdoor plaza separated the restaurant from the adjacent amphitheater that features covered seating for guests, making for a wet run from one venue to the other in inclement weather. In addition to joining the two spaces together, the park wanted the ability to serve guests food from a variety of cultures but needed to tie this concept into the Italian hamlet. Marco Polo’s Travels seemed like the perfect answer.

Using the original structure, we gutted the interior serving and cashier area, updated the kitchen and expanded the storage to allow for the ability to serve multiple food types from the same area. After redesigning the menu, the next step was to remodel the serving area. Marco Polo’s journey is told through the use of large illustrated journal pages, the first of which introduces  Marco Polo himself. The culinary journey is complimented by an immense custom light fixture designed to resemble the lanterns collected along his great trek across Europe and Asia. The interior was finished in the style of old Venice, with accents from Asia and the Middle East. The serving area also features a painted ceiling with large stained beams and stenciled borders. Glazed arabesque tiles, marble walls, and dark stained casework with copper accents create a warm, exotic feel.  To top it all off, the menus are kinetic, being projected from above with continuous subtle changes.

Externally, the former outdoor plaza was covered with a bronze pavilion in an old European style to add a patina. This ornate structure presented an opportunity to expand the restaurant, moving the cashiers and beverage station out into the piazza while allowing room for a new full-service bar dubbed Silk Road. Cashiers’ stations constructed of composite wood, solid surface, glazed tile, and crockery make them durable and weather resistant. The restaurant, with its well thought-out story and connection to the theater, has made Marco Polo’s Marketplace a featured dining destination for park guests.

View more projects in: