Macaroons on the March
Now at Le Bon Macaron on Fourth Ave.
by Sally Mitani
From the November, 2017 issue
With lighting speed, Kelly Toland turned the space that was the organic clothing store Perpetua Boutique on Fourth Ave. into Le Bon Macaron, a genteel, light-filled cafe named for its prize product: macarons in all colors of the rainbow (raspberry to lavender) as well as all the colors on the blonde-brunette spectrum (champagne to salted dark chocolate). Toland was able to move in fast because her macarons aren't baked on the spot. They're shipped daily from her East Lansing bakery. She also has a cafe in Grand Rapids, where she lives with her husband Drew and toddler Charlotte.
Toland lived in France for a year while studying French and art at Albion College. When she graduated in 2008, she and her mother bought A Piece O' Cake, a wedding cake bakery in East Lansing. She began adding French confections like macarons to the menu. When she married and moved to Grand Rapids several years ago, she got out of the wedding cake business but started selling macarons at the Grand Rapids farmers' market, eventually opening a shop in the East Hills part of town. She brought in her sister Chelsea, who has also lived in France, and credits her with "transforming the Grand Rapids store from a bakery into a cafe." Her dad, John Kobus, now runs the East Lansing bakery, and her mom, Wendy, and brother John also work in the business. (Drew, an engineer, and Charlotte, now two-and-a-half, have so far managed to stay off the payroll, though she says Drew "helps when I need spreadsheets or manual labor.")
Macarons, she says, probably need less explanation in food-fascinated Ann Arbor than other places: her description is "a delicate French pastry, almost like an almond meringue cookie with a rich filling"--hers are filled with flavored buttercream. (They're related to an American macaroon like a human is related to a chimpanzee--there's a common ancestor back there somewhere, but Toland doesn't know where it is.)
In addition to
macarons, as of early October she was offering coffee from Grand Rapids' Rowster roastery, Sloane teas, and by year's end, she plans to also have cream puffs, madeleines, and caramels. Toland says "I've never been very interested in wholesale" and doesn't sell her products anywhere else in Ann Arbor, though they're available a few places in the Detroit area, like the three Westborn markets and Detroit celebrity chef David Gilbert's high-toned Marais restaurant in Grosse Pointe: "We couldn't really say no to David Gilbert."
Le Bon Macaron, 209 S. Fourth Ave., 997-5501. Mon.-Wed. 9 a.m.-6 p.m., Thurs.-Sat. 9 a.m.-9 p.m., Sun. 10 a.m.-5 p.m. lebonmacaron.com
[Originally published in November, 2017.]
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