GRAND RAPIDS — Five years ago, Jason Richardson couldn’t pass up the opportunity to buy a tricycle freezer cart he found on Craigslist. It was the first step in starting artisan popsicle business Any Colour You Like Treats LLC with his wife, Korin Hollinshead.
After four years of selling handcrafted popsicles at Michigan music festivals, local events and farmers markets, Richardson and Hollinshead are now bringing their popsicles and other foods to a storefront in Grand Rapids.
The couple signed a lease in July at 966 E. Fulton St., which formerly housed Rinaldi’s Pizza and Sub Shop before it closed on April 10, in the city’s East Hills neighborhood.
“We really wanted to have a storefront to have more roots in the community — for people to come and have the opportunity to make more small batches (of popsicles) in fun flavors and to showcase what we can do,” Hollinshead said.
Hollinshead and Richardson had talked over the years about eventually opening a diner together. When the Fulton Street space — which is just a few blocks away from their home for the past decade — became available, they decided to pursue their dream.
The plan is for the approximately 900-square-foot space to operate as Black Napkin, a to-go restaurant with no sit down space, similarly to how Rinaldi’s operated.
“We’ve noticed a trend from the pandemic where a lot more people are now pre-ordering food with Toast and GrubHub,” Hollinshead said. “People have not necessarily switched completely from sitting and dining in, but between that and trying to staff a whole restaurant, which is always a headache, we wanted to keep it simple and not have to deal with the stresses of having to staff an entire restaurant.”
The Black Napkin name is a reference to the Frank Zappa song (the popsicle business references Pink Floyd), but it’s also a tongue-in-cheek nod to black napkins associated with high-end dining.
The owners say they can achieve the same high-quality food with menu items like burgers, sandwiches, fries, egg rolls and unique popsicles. They are also working to offer an old school soda fountain with similar flavor profiles as their popsicles, as well as cola recipes that are made to order, Hollinshead said.
“The whole menu is going to be really awesome,” she said. “It will be similar to our popsicles and how we deliver them in a humble, low-key way but use really high-quality ingredients.”
The restaurant’s feel will “blur the lines” of the traditional front-of-the-house and back-of-the-house separation that most restaurants have, Hollinshead said.
Richardson has been the “creative genius” behind Any Colour You Like’s unique recipes, Hollinshead said. The couple built up the business while working full-time day jobs and, with the help of a Kickstarter campaign for some kitchen supplies, built out a commercial kitchen space for the popsicle business at the beginning of the pandemic.
“Our focus is to use local ingredients whenever possible, and all other ingredients we source from sustainable practices,” Hollinshead said. “There are no colors or additives, and we keep everything gluten free and nut free just so everyone has a nice treat option. We keep it simple because we know we can still make it taste really good.”
Black Napkin aims to open to the public at the beginning of 2022. The space is being gutted and renovated by Grand Rapids-based T & S Concepts LLC, and MJW Consulting LLC serves as the architect. Richardson and Hollinshead are investing roughly $100,000 in updating the space.
“We also want to feature chefs or smaller food projects that are at the farmers market,” Hollinshead said. “We are excited to really collaborate more with the food community and to have a brick and mortar space.”