Food Service & Agriculture, Retail, and Small Business & Startups

Two Downtown Market vendors close

April 23, 2018
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Rocket Pies pizza
An "organically principled, custom-built pizza" by Rocket Pies. Photo via

A pizzeria and a green grocer inside the Grand Rapids Downtown Market have closed to make way for an ice cream shop expansion.

Chris McKellar — the owner of Rocket Pies, Relish Green Grocer and Love’s Ice Cream — has closed Rocket Pies and Relish at the market, at 435 Ionia Ave. SW.

Sunday was the last day of operation for both businesses.

Four employees are affected by the closures.

Rocket Pies served vegan and vegetarian “Neapolitan-inspired pizza,” while Relish Green Grocer was a provider of local, farm-fresh produce and Michigan-made drinks and snacks.

McKellar said all Rocket Pies gift cards will be honored at his other business at the market, Love’s Ice Cream.

Love’s will fill the vacated space — totaling 3,126 square feet, including Love’s existing space — as it expands into chocolates and candy confections, alongside the vegan ice cream for which it is known.

McKellar will still keep his on-premises liquor license, offering dessert cocktails, boozy ice cream floats and other alcoholic offerings in the future at Love’s.

“We have been studying our customers’ behaviors and their purchasing habits in our four-and-a-half years in the Downtown Market, and there is a distinct sweet tooth in West Michigan,” McKellar said.

“There are infinite possibilities to explore with chocolate candies, including on-site demonstrations, wholesale, catering and collaborations with the ice cream side of the business.”

An extension of the existing Love’s Ice Cream brand, Love’s confectionery will primarily focus on chocolate-covered creations, such as bonbons, but McKellar is also developing caramels, toffees, candy bars and hard candies.

Mimi Fritz, Downtown Market president and CEO, said the Market Hall is “all about” experimenting and trying new things, which is what McKellar is doing by shifting his focus to Love’s.

“Love’s was one of our very first businesses and has become well-known as a favorite in the Market Hall,” Fritz said.

To prepare for his expanded Love’s concept, McKellar took classes at Callebaut Chocolate Academy in Chicago, an academy that teaches chocolatiers and pastry chefs the art of dessert making.

This summer, he will also attend a two-week intensive confectionary residency course at University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Construction in the space will begin in early May to convert the area into a dessert emporium, with one long counter for ice cream and candy.

The firms on the project were not immediately disclosed.

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