Pizza Marathon

New pizzeria fills local grab-and-go niche created when a longtime grocery store closed


Lori Phillips and Mark Ludwig opened Pizza Market last month in Marathon City

Lori Phillips and Mark Ludwig ate a lot of pizza when they started working on recipes for their new restaurant. “And our families ate a lot of pizzas, too,” Phillips laughs. “As soon as we got the pizza oven in this winter we started practicing… The dough is the biggest thing and there are so many variables with moisture, air, and all that. There’s a learning curve.” After consuming a copious amount of pies, their recipe is now perfected.

Their Pizza Market and ice cream shop opened June 1 at 511 Main St. in Marathon City, and the response has been phenomenal, says Phillips. So much pizza has been flying out their doors that they ran out of dough during their first few days of operation, she says. “Those first two weeks, we ran out about every night toward the end of the day,” she says. “I just didn’t know what to expect.”

Seeing how popular their pizza is with the community, Phillips has learned to just make “a lot” of dough.

Why pizza and ice cream? Simply because everybody likes both, Phillips says. “It’s really recession proof, it’s not trendy, it fits every demographic, age group and generation.”

They also knew people in Marathon City were looking for another foodery, she says. When the long-standing grocery store in the heart of downtown was razed recently, residents lost a place for grab and go food, she says. “We had limited options downtown.”

Both Ludwig and Phillips have full-time jobs in addition to running Pizza Market, but are focused on honing the integrity and consistent quality of each pizza, she says. Phillips makes the dough from scratch, they use all fresh vegetables, and incorporate primarily Wisconsin-sourced products into their recipes. They even made a sweet pizza with strawberries from the nearby Kamenick Farms.

Pizza Market was built out of an old barbershop on the main street of Marathon City, and the restaurant’s old-timey, rustic chic décor perfectly reflects an ode to that historic, small town background.

The service is based on a take-out model, offering to-go stone fired pizzas and hand dipped ice cream along with a few other options like garlic bread and paninis. “People like convenience and fast and also they have an appreciation for quality,” Phillips says, “but they want to take their food home.”

The most popular pizzas so far have been the Market Deluxe (pepperoni, sausage, red onions, fresh mushrooms, black olives) and The Pork Market (Italian sausage, pepperoni, Canadian bacon, bacon). Phillips says she is addicted to the Brisket Hot Honey pizza which is built around honey infused with chili pepper. “That has smoked brisket, red onion and is drizzled with Mike’s Hot Honey,” says Phillips. “That one has gotten really popular, too.”

Pizza Market offers two crust sizes of 12 and 16 inches and a gluten free option as well. Aside from pizza, customers can order paninis, pizza fries, and garlic bread and chose from a rotation of ten flavors of Kemps ice cream served in dishes, cake or waffle cones. Pizza Market doesn’t have a formal dining area but there is a full patio with seating behind the store where “people are more than welcome to eat there or wait there,” says Phillips.

Pizza Market is open Thurs.–Sun. for a full menu, and in summer Mon.–Wed. for ice cream only. Hours vary. Village Pride Day is Thursdays and Fridays 2-5 pm and includes a slice of pizza and a drink for $5 with 10% of the sales donated to a local organization. For more information call 715-443-0400 or visit their Facebook page.