MLive Features GDC Expansion

July 07, 2021

Read the entire article here.

Grocer’s Daughter Chocolate to expand with bakery, gelato shop, creating sweet stretch on M-22


The bright green exterior of this chocolate shop has become well-known along this stretch of M-22 in Empire. Photo provided by Grocer's Daughter Chocolate.

EMPIRE, MI – Grocer’s Daughter Chocolate has long been known for its eye-catching green building, now tucked along M-22 at the very edge of Empire. Later this summer, this beloved Northern Michigan spot will expand with the opening of a new bakery and gelato shop right next door, as well as a huge new outdoor space for relaxing.

This new stretch of all things sweet not only is expected to expand the downtown area of tiny Empire – the headquarters of Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore - but also create a treat-filled gathering spot right where the southern tip of the 22-mile Sleeping Bear Heritage Trail flows into this Lake Michigan beach town.

“What we are really excited about is stretching the boundaries of downtown Empire,” said Jody Hayden, a chocolatier and businesswoman who owns the ventures with her husband, DC Hayden. “In the spring, summer and fall, we get a lot of people coming off the trail, looking for a snack. It feels like a really sweet corner where we can welcome people.”

A couple of things are fueling this expansion: the purchase of two buildings on either side of the existing Grocer’s Daughter Chocolate shop, and an $80,000 state grant that is helping the couple with the plans, including the purchase of new freezers and high-end gelato-making equipment from Italy.

The Haydens have known for a while their business has been ripe to grow. It was just a matter of timing – and space. Grocer’s Daughter has made a name for itself in Michigan and beyond with its artisan hand-made chocolates. These include honey caramels, silky truffles, specialty bars, fudgsicles and sought-after paper bags of drinking chocolate. Their chocolate is sourced mostly from small farms in Ecuador, with the rest of their dairy, fruit, honey and other ingredients coming from local farmers.

Of the two next-door buildings the Grocer’s Daughter team purchased, the former insurance building is the one being remodeled into the bakery and gelato shop. It will have outdoor seating and a walk-up window for customers. Its second-floor space is being converted into studio apartments with balconies overlooking the famed M-22. Initially, these apartments will be used as rentals to help cover the cost of the project. Eventually though, Jody Hayden said they’d love to invite people from the international chocolate community to stay there while they all continue to learn the craft from each other.

Also in News

Third Annual Cacao and Chocolate Summit | Next WEEK

May 20, 2021

The Third Annual International Ecuador Cacao and Chocolate Summit will be taking place virtually this year, on May 26th – 27th.

Continue Reading

GDC and Empire news featured in the Glen Arbor Sun

May 18, 2021

Empire gets facelift along M-22 By Mae Stier Sun contributor M-22 north out of Empire is beginning to look quite a bit different than this time last year. New businesses and homes are popping up in the corridor that guides travelers out of the village, bringing new life to the quiet town after this pandemic year.

Continue Reading

Join us for Zingerman's Meet the Maker Series - Thursday May

April 29, 2021

Join us for the Zingerman's 'Meet the Maker' Series!

Continue Reading