Section: News

Village Market brings new culinary creations to the Hill

Village Market brings new culinary creations to the Hill


The recently revived and revamped Village Market has become a beloved Gambier gem this past year, enticing Kenyon affiliates and Knox County locals with novelties such as açaí bowls, bubble tea and calzones. Having flourished both as a profitable business and as a prominent employer of Kenyon students, the Market will continue seeking innovative means to best serve the needs of its eclectic clientele.

Since taking over last August, owners Nick and Betsy Jones have worked tirelessly to serve the local community and have grown the business significantly in the past few months. Besides increasing the market’s hours and adding 37 Kenyon students to the payroll, they have also invested in a pizza oven and have hosted a number of special occasions such as a Market Dog Day in December, when the Market’s signature hot dogs were sold for only 50 cents each. Most recently, the Market introduced bubble tea to its menu (at a price of $6.25) and sold 150 orders on its first day, according to Nick Jones.  

Nick Jones also reported that the Market’s most profitable item is currently açaí bowls, which it started selling in November following an employee’s suggestion. He noted that neither he nor his wife nor many of their local customers had ever heard of açaí bowls, but that their indisputable popularity has been indicative of the value of listening to student input. “Students come from all over the country and bring us ideas,” he said. “Now it’s branching out into the local, rural Ohio community; it’s bringing a little bit of flavor from across the country here to little ole Gambier.”

The Market has also enlisted certain employees to cook up their own specialities during their shifts. Andrew Hall ’24, for example, has been the sole employee entrusted to prepare calzones, which he serves during his 8 p.m.-12 a.m. shifts on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays. “Nick and Betsy trust me to do these things,” he said. “It’s a little more complicated than making a pizza, and so we haven’t started training the new people on it.”

Despite its relative simplicity, Hall noted that the pizza in particular has undergone serious scrutiny in the months since it was first introduced in order to ensure it is as delicious as possible. “Even now, sometimes we’ll make small tweaks and change it,” he said. “We’ve been adding veggies, mushrooms and such, banana peppers, jalapeños — all sorts of things.” 

He added that the pizza’s demand is consistent throughout the week from a diverse array of customers, from Campus Safety officers on Fridays to hungry students emerging from Trivia at the Village Inn on Wednesday nights. “I consider myself a pizza connoisseur, and I like it a lot!” Director of Campus Safety Michael Sweazey wrote in an email to the Collegian. “The addition of the pizza and the great vibe they have brought to the store has been great for the Village and the students, but bad for my waist!” 

Preparing and serving the pizza to its large fan base has been a thrill of its own for a number of the Market’s student employees. “It’s kind of [like playing] one of those games like Papa’s Pizzeria,” said Cara Ferrantelli ’25. “It ebbs and flows.”

Games aside, Hall also said that the Market’s diligence with the pizza is representative of the Joneses’ dedication to providing high-quality service and food to the community. “They say a lot that they don’t want to do too much — what they want to do, they want it to be great,” he said. “When they do something new, it’s going to be great because they’ve spent a lot of time thinking about it and developing it.” 

Demonstrating another aspect of his commitment to customers, Nick Jones noted that one of the most challenging aspects of managing the store is his own disappointment when the Market is unable to meet customers’ needs. “One of the things that really bothers me is when somebody comes into our store looking for a product and we don’t have it,” he said, stressing that when this issue arises, it is quickly addressed. “Usually, when someone asks for something and it’s not there, by the next week we’ll have it.”

He noted that the Market has encountered the opposite problem as well, where there have been a few items that have failed to sell and have remained on the shelves for months. “There was a coffee-flavored pumpkin beer that has not sold since Halloween, so that one is a personal pet peeve of mine,” he said.

As the academic year comes to a close, Nick Jones expects business to slow. He said the anticipated lull will allow him and Besty Jones to begin improving the store’s indoor seating layout. He added that they hope to introduce a new item to the Market’s menu every semester, and students can look forward to the next addition in the fall. 

Besides the joy that comes from cooking to the sound of ABBA on the Market’s new collaborative playlist (to which all Kenyon students were invited to add a song) or allowing his friends to sample his culinary creations, Hall said that the most meaningful aspect of working at the Market has been having the opportunity to grow closer to the Joneses. “The relationship that I’ve developed with them, and that I think a lot of students have developed with them, is something that is really unique to the Market,” he said. “They’re wonderful to work for and, honestly, what I will remember even 10 years after being at Kenyon,” he said.

Mayor of Gambier Leeman Kessler ’04 echoed this sentiment and expressed gratitude for everything the Joneses have done to serve the community thus far. “We are beyond blessed to have them as neighbors and partners, and I’m grateful for their hard work and excited for what the future holds,” he wrote in a message to the Collegian

Establishing the Market’s new role on campus has been a mutually rewarding experience for the Joneses, who are also optimistic about the Market’s future. “It feels like a Hallmark movie sometimes, being here. When you look out, it’s so beautiful here; it’s a small town, everyone walks in, you know them, everybody’s got a smile on their face,” Mr. Jones said. “We still have a lot to learn, but I feel like we are better prepared to know what to expect moving forward, how to be more prepared for students and how to be more prepared for the community.”

As the summer approaches, Ferrantelli said it will be the Market’s whimsical charm that she will miss the most. “I definitely think I will miss the Papa’s Pizzeria of it all,” she said. “It makes me feel like I’m in another world for those few hours.” 


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