Ron Franscell, journalist and novelist once said, “Some journeys take you farther from where you come from, but closer to where you belong.” This might be the perfect way to describe the life of Marcela Barrios, owner of Marcela’s Baires Restaurante in downtown Marion, Ohio. She grew up in Argentina and moved to Miami, Florida with her then husband and young daughter. She left behind her parents, siblings and a job with an airlines to come to a country where she knew no one.
A couple of years later she moved to Marion, a 23-hour drive with two small children. Arriving in Marion was a physical and cultural shock for Marcela, even the housing was very different. In Argentina and Miami, she had neighbors right next door, but in Marion as she said, “I thought I was living in the country there was so much yard.”
Converting her classroom English with a thick accent into natural conversation with her neighbors was another challenge. For six months she didn’t speak much to anyone. Her 2nd grade daughter spoke better English than she did. Difficulties with speaking and the cold weather took a toll on her their first year in Marion. But it was her friendly and understanding neighbors, who were willing to help her breakdown those barriers, that made it possible for Marcela to overcome her new-found fear of speaking and be herself again. Not only did Marcela have to learn to overcome speaking English and the cold climate, but she did this as a single mother.
Today Marcela admits her daughter Valentina, in college at University of Miami, and her son Matthew, a student at Pleasant High School, still speak better English. She doesn’t know why she can’t lose the accent like her children have been able to do. But maybe that is not important. What is important is what she brings to our community.
Her restaurant – Baires is a true success in downtown Marion, serving breakfast and lunch weekdays and one dinner a week to loyal regulars who come for the great Argentinian and Italian cuisine. It has been an asset for over 11 years. Not bad for a woman whose prior food service experience was only cooking for her family.
Her restaurant’s atmosphere reflects Marcela’s open and friendly personality. Her favorite part is the social life. Marcela has in her genuine interest in her customers. She makes time to chat with everyone and to make them feel welcome, repaying the kindness with which her neighbors welcomed her to Marion. This feeling is not one-sided. One Facebook customer’s comment was — “Great food and service! Has become my daily breakfast spot and look forward to going there to start my day!”
Marcela Barrios is also involved in her community. Last year she danced the tango as one of the celebrity performers for the Turn up the Heat fundraising event for the Women’s Historic Club Home. She looks forward of being part of downtown Marion’s bright future and is encouraged by the improvements in the businesses, but also in the attitudes of people about Marion. She believes that there is a great deal to be proud of in Marion.
So some might question why Marcela is featured as a MarionMade! story because she wasn’t born here. Actually Marcela may be more MarionMade! because she chose to live in Marion and she shows the spirit of the MarionMade! every day — by acting like someone who loves their community.
“The people in Marion truly make you feel so close to home – wherever you’re originally from,” Marcela assured. This is why Marcela chose to love Marion and stay here. A few times she had offers to move back to Miami but she and the Martin children chose to stay. With the fond memories and friendships made and their ongoing love of Marion, Marcela and her children are here to stay in the town where they call home.