On March 30th, just in time for the Easter weekend, if you were in Troy, Ohio’s downtown square, you would have no doubt seen participants of the town’s annual Chocolate Walk. The Chocolate Walk is a community event put on by the local non-profit, Troy Main Street, featuring 23 local merchants coming together to create a cocoa-filled evening full of delicious stops.
Participants buy tickets leading up to the event and, once there, walk around to each location. At each venue, participants receive a chocolate-related item in exchange for a mark on their ticket, a three-fold win for the businesses, Troy Main Street, and event-goers.
However, there was one such stop that was especially notable, as it featured a locale that not only hosted one business, but rather two, working mutually to support one another in a way that we might not often consider, similar to the Chocolate Walk’s own cooperative efforts.
Selling her artfully crafted and scrumptious macarons, as well as giving out hearty chocolate muffins for the event, Auglaize County's own Michelle Adams, of Michelle's Macarons, found herself in Troy on that Friday evening to the excitement of many who were enjoying her work.
Michelle has been fully engaged in her macaron pastry business for about a year and a half and the venture has gained a lot of momentum. Michelle has thrived on both branching out to places like Bowling Green and the support of her local environment within New Bremen.
Michelle did not succeed unwittingly though. She spent 2 ½ years prior to her full-time commitment, honing her craft part-time and considering the best avenues to achieve success, and her choice to do so has seemingly payed off as her macarons speak for themselves.
To distribute her products, Michelle has used various outlets such as store fronts to sell alongside their daily inventory. She also attends farmer’s markets where customers can get a more intimate interaction with Michelle and her products.
But here at the Chocolate Walk, Michelle was taking part in a vending experience that was similar to a farmer’s market, but the same interaction was occuring in a full restaurant space, a space that Michelle did not actually own, but was instead renting.
Michelle was being hosted as a vendor in a restaurant officially known as Lunch @ 4 W. Main, a relatively innovative idea for a business, also known as a satellite kitchen or a pop-up lunch spot.
Essentially, the space is open on weekdays from 11 am to 2 pm, and features a rotating selection of local vendors to serve, as the name entails, lunch to the average working person. The location of Lunch @ 4 W. Main is optimal too, as it really allows lesser-known food-producers to shine on Troy’s main street, a location with a lot of demand for walking distance food sources and a quick meal.
Lunch has even sparked the interest of franchise catering companies such as Bob Evans to join in on the opportunity. The only notable requisite for being a vendor is that food must be pre-made before being brought to the location. Lunch also hosts catered events and other uses for the space during its non-business hours, and is a really elegant space that matches its unique ideas.
Lunch is quite adaptive to the atmosphere of Troy, but when asked about future expansion into new regions, co-founders Jessica and Karen expressed that they believe that the satellite kitchen idea could work in many spaces. However, the two are happy to stay local and provide for the immediate Troy community for the time being.
Whether it’s an organized event, an unlikely food producer, or an innovative platform for fulfilling local demands, Friday evening’s success serves as a reminder that good business can be as much about creating innovative connections as it is about creating innovative products, a lesson we can all use a little more of going into the future.