Food Service & Agriculture, Real Estate, and Retail

Downtown Market vendor secures space for pizzeria, produce and expansion

February 18, 2016
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Rocket Pies pizza
Rocket Pies in the Downtown Market in Grand Rapids will sell “organically principled” custom pizzas and salad bowls, including vegetarian and vegan options. Photo via

A Downtown Market vendor is opening two new businesses in the indoor Market Hall and relocating and expanding its original operation.

Love’s Ice Cream owner Chris McKellar has taken over ownership of Relish Green Grocer from the Downtown Market and is launching Rocket Pies and expanding Love’s Ice Cream.

McKellar will utilize Relish’s 3,125-square-foot space for all three businesses.

The opening for Rocket Pies, the new Love’s Ice Cream location and Relish Green Grocer remodel is projected for this spring.

Rocket Pies will be a market-fresh pizza eatery with a “veggie-positive” focus on Neapolitan-style pizzas and hearty salad bowls using certified organic ingredients.

Rocket Pies will be made using a base of wild-leavened dough from specialty milled organic USA flour, which will result in a thin, crispy-chewy crust, organic tomatoes, fresh mozzarella cheese made from Michigan grass and non-GMO fed cows and fresh vegetables from the likes of Green Wagon Farm or several of the urban farmers popping up in Grand Rapids. Select charcuterie toppings will be sourced from sustainable artisan salumerias around the country.

The name Rocket Pies is derived from “roquette,” the French term for arugula. In Italy, raw arugula is often added to pizzas just before the baking period ends or immediately afterwards, giving it a sweet, peppery flavor.

“Delicious pizza done right can also be a nourishing meal,” McKellar said. “Rocket Pies will bridge the gap between farm and table by placing the same attention on organic, local, non-GMO ingredients that we have poured into Love’s Ice Cream.”

McKellar said he’s excited to extend “our food philosophy” to meal times, with “thoughtful options” for omnivores, vegans and those with food intolerances.

McKellar will operate Relish “very much like my pantry at home.”

He said its offerings will be focused on fresh ingredients from local farms, as well as non-perishable staples like rice, legumes, pasta and other goods “a family needs to create the core of a meal all in once place.”

“In addition to keeping a fresh grocer presence for local consumers, Relish will be a seasonal source of fresh, local ingredients for Rocket Pies, as well as a destination for CSA and local farm pickups,” McKellar said.

The new, expanded Love’s Ice Cream space will allow McKellar to meet growing demand.

Love’s Ice Cream creates handcrafted ice cream, vegan gelato, sorbet, baked goods and confections.

The Downtown Market said the combined Rocket Pies and Love’s Ice Cream space will provide seating for 40 customers and a more convenient location and hours for customers who are popping in for a treat.

The Rocket Pies, Love’s Ice Cream and Relish location also includes significant back-of-house space, which will provide Love’s with access to more storage, specifically deep freezer space.

“Having this will allow Chris to significantly increase ice cream production, expand distribution and fulfill future growth opportunities,” the market said.

“The Downtown Market is a place where food entrepreneurs can experiment with new business models and flavors,” said Mimi Fritz, president and CEO, Downtown Market. “We have no shortage of success stories, and Love’s is one of our most prominent.” 

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