The Chartreuse Sisters’ French bakery and coffee shop is coming to uptown Grand Rapids

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) – A building in Grand Rapids that has sat vacant for years is set to become a French pastry shop.

Chartreuse sisters is located at the southeast corner of Wealthy Street and Eastern Avenue SE. Easttown natives Alyson and Mallory Caillaud-Jones have spent the last 18 months raising funds, obtaining permits and converting the building into their first coffee shop and bakery.

“What’s so funny is that Mallory and I have actually spent our entire lives driving past this abandoned building wondering what would happen inside, not knowing it would be us! We were originally looking for a room ready to move into, but when our (agent) encouraged us to look at this property we couldn’t say no. As soon as we walked in and saw the original floor tiles and ceiling, we knew it was the perfect spot for our pastry shop,” said Alyson Caillaud-Jones.

The storefront at 800 Wealthy St. SE was first built in the early 1900s, according to Julie Taberer, historian at the Grand Rapids Public Library. Library archives show it operated as a post office from 1929 until at least 1970, before becoming a city directory and then various iterations of a drugstore, Taberer found.

(An image provided by the Grand Rapids Public Library Historical Archives shows 800 Wealthy St. SE as depicted in the 1908 Grand Rapids Michigan Post Office Guide.)

Alyson Caillaud-Jones said the tiles in the entryway still say “Drugs” and that they found a 1970s glass aspirin bottle in the basement. The storefront also featured vintage wallpaper with apothecary symbols and images.

“We were able to salvage a bit of it to frame and hang in the store,” said Alyson Caillaud-Jones.

This piece of history will be surrounded by emerald green, gold, red velvet and warm lighting when the bakery and café open. The sisters plan to create an ambience that combines French patisserie and cocktail lounge vibes.

“We will be playing French music and customers are welcome to speak to us in French for the full Chartreuse Sisters experience,” said Alyson Caillaud-Jones.

The sisters’ new space builds on their family roots. Her mother is French and they spent their summers with relatives in the south of France.

“Both Alyson and I love Grand Rapids so much that we’ve decided to both make it our home base. But to really make it feel like home, we had to bring a piece of France to our beloved hometown,” said Mallory Caillaud-Jones.

(A photo provided by Chartreuse Sisters shows owners Alyson and Mallory Caillaud-Jones at a pop-up event.)

The sisters came up with the idea for a patisserie three years ago while sitting in a café in Detroit.

“Alyson turned to me and said, ‘That’s what I want to do, I just want to open a coffee shop,'” explained Mallory Caillaud-Jones. “I said to her, ‘Well, why don’t you do it then?’ And she said, ‘I will if you do it to me.’”

The Chartreuse sisters were born.

“We always knew we wanted to have ‘sisters’ in our name, but since our last name is difficult to spell and pronounce, we decided to use a word that exists in both French and English: Chartreuse” , said Mallory Caillaud-Jones explained.

The sisters started out in their parents’ kitchen at home, baking, then taking their French-American fusion pastries to pop-up events and delivering monthly “goodie boxes” during the pandemic.

“I’ve always loved baking but never thought about doing it professionally until Alyson gave me the push. I’m glad she did because I’ve found that pastry design is my true passion,” said Mallory Caillaud-Jones.

Because the Chartreuse Sisters have evolved from farm food laws to a brick-and-mortar business, the patisserie can now serve cottage cheese, crème patisserie, “basically all the most delicious baked goods that we weren’t allowed to make in the past,” said Alyson Caillaud-Jones.

On the beverage side, the Chartreuse Sisters offer espresso drinks and non-alcoholic cocktails using non-alcoholic spirits.

The sisters say their newly retired father will be by their side when the business opens and will help them get started in the kitchen. If all goes well, the Chartreuse Sisters could open in early November, just in time for the holiday season.

“We are thrilled to be opening to the public soon and can’t wait to create a welcoming space for our community. Throughout this process we have felt so supported by the other small businesses and can’t wait to become another small family business in Uptown Grand Rapids,” said Mallory Caillaud-Jones.

The sisters plan to announce the official opening date and details of the Chartreuse Sisters Facebook and Instagram Pages. The Chartreuse Sisters' French bakery and coffee shop is coming to uptown Grand Rapids

Dais Johnston

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