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Neighborhood cupcake, ice cream shop adds savory to sweet with expansion

Sweet Mellisa's, a two year old Alger Heights shop, has recently completed the development of its interior cafe complete with new menu.
Eastern Avenue entrance

Eastern Avenue entrance /Eric Tank

Underwriting support from:

Wednesday Book Night

Sweet Mellisa's hosts a book night every Wednesday from 7-8 p.m. Kids 12 and under get a free book and ice cream cone. 

Cupcake display

Cupcake display /Eric Tank

Sweet Mellisa's has recently expanded its operation in Alger Heights from ice cream and cupcake shop to cafe that seats over 20 indoors. The shop has been in operation at 2404 Eastern Avenue since April 2012 when Mellisa and husband Steve Verstraete purchased the business. 

The new menu offers sandwiches, soups and salads. Staffing the kitchen is chef Christian Hennessy, who was brought on board to ensure premium quality to the culinary delectables. Hennessy has created a variety of sauces that add that extra burst of flavor to the Boar's Head brand deli meats and cheeses used for sandwiches. 

Sweet Mellisa's is currently competing in the Grandwich competition and according to the Rapidian panel reviewers is a top contender. You can read about the Mafioso sandwich here.

Gluten free options for sandwiches are offered on the menu. On Thursdays an assortment of gluten free cupcakes will be available.

Verstraete hopes to open for breakfast once school starts again in the fall, offering cinnamon rolls, quiche and other breakfast items.

Sweet Mellisa's sources their ice cream locally from MOO-ville and Hudsonville. Pour over coffee is supplied by Rowster Coffee

The approximately 2,000 square feet of space extends from Eastern Avenue where the facade and walk up window is located to the Alger Heights Plaza parking lot where there is a second entrance. Inside, the cinder block and wood walls are painted slate grey with insets for booths along the north wall. The front counter sits midway with a display case and bar top on flanking the south side. A narrow hallway runs the length to the Eastern entrance. 

"We've renovated this space that I think is attractive to a lot of different people. You have a good looking space, but then also have the high quality food," say Steve Verstraete. 

Alger Heights neighborhood boasts a business district that includes the Seymour branch of the Grand Rapids Public Library and Ken's Fruit Market, a staple grocery store. 

"It seems like one of those neighborhoods that's just has a really good core set of people in it. It's maintained its value and its identity throughout a long period of time," says Verstraete. 

When asked about what it means to be a neighborhood business, Verstraete says, "[Sweet Mellisa's] plays a large role in the future nostalgia of the children that are here right now." 

Sweet Mellisa's also engages the community by hosting a book night in partnership with Grand Valley State University. Every Wednesday night kids 12 and under get a free book and ice cream cone. The program is so successful that they see up to 400 kids on Wednesdays. 

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