GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Across from Rosa Parks Circle in the heart of Grand Rapids, a new sweets shop is taking shape.
Owners Bobbi Jo and William Blanton had been talking about starting a business for a long time but didn’t nail down a concept until Bobbi spotted an advertisement touting Le Macaron as one of the top women-owned franchises in the U.S., store manager Megan McCurdy said.
The easier question to answer was where to open.
“They just wanted to be a part of the downtown community. They love the area so much. Actually, the location itself just sold them. They wanted to find something in downtown Grand Rapids and the space that was available right across from Rosa Parks Circle. It was just the icing on the cake,” McCurdy said.
WHAT’S ON THE MENU
True to its name, Le Macaron serves up 24 flavors of macarons, from more traditional Madagascar black vanilla, Belgian chocolate and red velvet to more experimental flavors like bubble gum, rose, basil white chocolate and pistachio. McCurdy says the dairy-free mango and raspberry macarons stand out.
Le Macaron also offers seasonal and holiday macarons for Valentine’s Day, Easter, Fourth of July and Christmas.
Each macaron features an outer shell made with egg whites, almond flour and sugar at a Florida confectionary. McCurdy says the middle is like a soft merengue filling.
“Our macaroons are superb,” McCurdy said. “(The owners) love macaroons and this is by far one of the best they’ve ever tried.”
Le Macaron will also serve up eclairs, croissants, a Napoleon cake, tarts, fine chocolates, French gelato, Italian coffee and espresso. Prices are not yet set.
“We’re trying to get a feel for the area, what we think our customers would like, and based off our product, what we think is appropriate,” McCurdy explained.
She says the goal is to be open early mornings, giving downtown Grand Rapids a much-needed breakfast option.
“They can step in and grab a French pastry, some nice espresso coffee. We’re striving to be open by 7 a.m., and then we’ll be open hopefully till 9 (or) 10 p.m.,” she said.
Le Macaron will also cater. McCurdy says brides who spotted the business at recent expos are already contacting them with potential orders.
OPENING WITH INCLUSIVITY
The Blantons, who have volunteered for and helped lead the Down Syndrome Association of West Michigan, plan to hire people with disabilities to staff the shop.
“One of their favorite values of the DSAWM is inclusion, so just being included in the environment and that community. And I think bringing that to the store was a main focus for what type of business they wanted to have,” McCurdy said.
She expects the shop to employ 20 or more people part-time, with shorter shifts meant to accommodate workers with disabilities. McCurdy says the updated store will also be compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act in terms of accessibility.
“Grand Rapids is a beautiful place to be. We just want to open our doors to everybody,” she said.
Construction on Le Macaron started in December. McCurdy says Grand Rapids-based contractor Carbon Six is making plenty of changes to the interior, which will be “beautiful, pink, pretty vibrant, clean” when complete. The shop will seat 30 to 40 people inside with plans for outdoor seating, as well.
If all goes well, the owners hope to open Le Macaron in late April.
“It feels pretty great,” McCurdy said. “Every day we wake up and we’re just striving for the best and we’re getting closer every single day and it’s so nice to see the progress.”
Macaron fans can get updates on the opening by following Le Macaron Grand Rapids on Facebook.