Folgarelli’s changes hands

TRAVERSE CITY – Donna Folgarelli has passed on the family business to son Darric Newman, though the change in ownership this spring is just one of several new happenings at downtown's Folgarelli's.

Newman, 36, whose family opened the specialty food market in Traverse City in 1978, has partnered with sisters Eileen Cochran and Virginia Powell to operate a revamped Folgarelli's. Donna Folgarelli will continue to offer her cooking classes and is serving as a consultant during the change of hands.

"It's pretty exciting. We have some fun new changes on our immediate horizon," Newman said. "We're really not changing what we already do; we're adding some pieces of the puzzle, so to speak. It's going to enhance what we already do."

As early as Memorial Day, Folgarelli's, which already offers 100 different kinds of cheeses and anywhere between 35 and 40 kinds of sandwiches on any given day, will add a full line of meats and produce.

"We're going to be a little bit more of gourmet grocery store set-up," Newman said. "The products we're bringing in are absolutely phenomenal."

Other changes include installing a new kitchen and providing grab-and-go items such as cheese plates, sandwiches and other goodies in a big cooler near the front door.

"What we want to do is have little things in the cooler, little cheese plates so that people can get a bottle of wine and take some bread and cheese out on the patio," said Cochran, who operated a high-end gourmet grocery market in Miami prior to moving to Traverse City and running a marketing firm with Powell.

"We get so busy in the summer-people are waiting sometimes 10 to 15 minutes for a sandwich. Now we'll have some already made and ready to go."

Folgarelli's also will offer ready-made entrees, created by the shop's own chef Jason Maday, a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America.

All of the store's wine has been moved next door to its wine shop that now features a tasting bar. Cochran hopes customers will make the most of Folgarelli's ability to serve glasses of wine on-site.

"We'll maybe have 10 different (wine) choices each day," said Cochran, who also has added several kinds of chocolates from around the world to the market's product line. "(Customers) can do everything from purchase a glass of wine to, 'Hey, I want to taste something before I buy it,' which I think is what makes us unique."

Cochran is especially happy to be back in the gourmet foods business.

"It's very exciting. I'm in my element again," she said.

Equally pleasing to the owners is their collaboration. Each brings specific expertise to the table, Cochran said.

"We talked to Darric, and with his strong background and extensive knowledge in wine … Virginia has a background in catering and a strong interest in organic foods, we hit it off and decided to team together," she said. "It's a fantastic combination, the three of us. It's perfect."

Traverse City State Bank did the financing. BN