When Michelle Gillette opened Ms. Michelle’s Urban Gourmet a little over 18 months ago, she likely didn’t expect customers to drive from Nassau County or the east end for her gluten-free desserts, sandwiches, soups and homemade daily pastry specials.
But they do, and in the past year and a half they’ve also inspired her to create new recipes that have become favorites among the Middle Road shop’s expanding customer base.
In fact, during a recent visit a customer asked when she would have her well-known black and white cookies back on the rack, and another customer talked about how every morsel was devoured during his family’s entertaining at holiday time.
“A lot of our customers visit through word of mouth,” said Gillette’s partner Christopher Kelly, but Gillette is also a savvy social media user and entices new and regular customers to stop by via posts on her Facebook page and her monthly email newsletter.
In fact it was the arrival of new French Savories – a twist on the shop’s rolls featuring porcuitto and cheddar and another made with spinach and cheddar that prompted Patch to stop in early one weekend morning.
“We’ll try to create whatever customers ask for, whatever is on their bucket list,” said Kelly, noting the breakfast treats were just one of the newest goodies at the quaint gourmet shop.
This week the ‘bucket list’ treat was Nutella Cookie Pie and chocolate chip cookie cake balls rolled in dark chocolate fudge and dipped in sprinkles.
Another new treat are the Peanut Butter cupcakes and every day there is a soup special as well. Tomato bisque was the perfect remedy one lunchtime when the weather was freezing and gloomy.
While the initial goal in opening the shop may have been to offer options for those with dietary issues and food allergies, the shop’s become a favorite for those who can digest wheat and white flour.
That’s because Michelle’s Urban Gourmet is proof that healthy, organic and gluten-free desserts and treats aren’t what they once used to be: a limited and sometimes not very satisfying experience.
“It takes a lot of patience,” admits Kelly, in terms of getting a new recipe created and developing a consistency in flavor.
“We make a lot of batches,” he adds with a smile. “But it’s worth it and now a growing number of our customers are those who can have gluten products but come here because they love how our products taste.”
To check out what’s on the menu for the day, you can check out Gillette’s Facebook page, sign up for her newsletter or give a quick drive by as she always has specials or lunch offerings of the day clearly posted on a blackboard sign.