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MMELO Returns as Pickup & Delivery Operation

Susan Post Susan Post MMELO Returns as Pickup & Delivery OperationPhotos provided by MMELO
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When its brick-and-mortar shop closed in May, MMELO left fans with some good news – the confectioner would be back.

Now, the wait is over.

MMELO is once again whipping up delectable confectionaries and pastries, but switching things up as a pickup and delivery only business.

Owner Michelle Allen says pre-pandemic, closing the brick-and-mortar shop wasn’t in the plans, but they had never been totally satisfied with the location.

“It didn’t quite fit what we needed it to do,” Allen says.

For one thing, they didn’t have a kitchen, limiting what they could do on-site and fracturing attentions across locations as the business grew.

The pandemic also started to impact MMELO’s business even before sweeping shutdowns began. Corporate business, which previously accounted for 60% of their revenue, started to dry up in February.

“By March 15 we’d lost 100% of our corporate business,” Allen says.

Next came the discussion and eventual conversion of the Convention Center, right across the street from MMELO’s former storefront, into a COVID-19 field hospital.

It was time to close down the brick-and-mortar.

Photo provided by MMELO

While Allen calls the process of having to unexpectedly reinvent their business model a nightmare, plans put in motion months earlier ultimately helped with the transition.

In August of 2019, Allen purchased the Polaris Parkway Cafe in the Mettler Toledo Building, 1900 Polaris Pkwy. The cafe provided a space with an existing revenue stream and a kitchen that could serve as MMELO’s production facility. Even early on, the plan was to move MMELO’s production out of shared, commercial kitchen the Food Fort and into the cafe. The pandemic just accelerated those plans.

MMELO was also looking at a more streamlined 2020. While their revenue grew by 67% in 2019, Allen says it was too much too fast.

“The goal for 2020 was simply to amplify,” Allen says. The plan was to scale back and refocus.

“Ironically enough it’s what allowed us to pivot quickly,” she says.

Back in action as of mid-November, customers will interact with MMELO in what Allen calls a more fun and efficient manner. And not only is there a more curated lineup of the MMELO confections guests know and love, but customers also get to experience the pastry side of the business that had previously largely served wholesale clients.

MMELO’s treats are now available through two avenues: same-day curbside pickup and weekend delivery.

Curbside pickup is reserved for MMELO’s confections – chocolate bars, chocolate buttons, marshmmelos and more. Orders placed by 10 a.m. are available for same-day pickup at the Mettler Toledo building between 1 – 3 p.m.

Pastry and baked good pre-orders are due by 6 p.m. Wednesdays for local delivery (within a 20-mile radius) on Fridays. In MMELO’s pastry section lies a world of treats to discover, from Babka and Swedish Coffee Bread, to scones and tarts and croissants in varieties like almond, rosemary and chocolate.

Allen says MMELO didn’t really have enough foot traffic in the Short North to justify a robust selection of fresh pastries with a short shelf life. Now, through pre-order and delivery, the business can build a following for its pastry while ensuring the freshest quality possible.

Photo provided by MMELO

Fans will recognize their favorites – with a few new twists – in MMELO’s more curated collection of sweets. Allen spent the summer developing her own recipe for white chocolate. She wanted to take what is typically viewed as a waxy, sub-par confection and turn it into something beautiful she could infuse with unique flavors like curry or turmeric.

MMELO’s current lineup also includes a number of vegan confections. Allen says she has always tried to position MMELO as a modern confectionery and designed their collections with that perspective. That means adapting as eating habits change and addressing lifestyle choices – something Allen doesn’t see traditional confectioneries doing.

“We’ll always have vegan options, dairy-free options, gluten-free options in our collection,” Allen says.

Someday those confections will once again be available through a brick-and-mortar experience. Allen says MMELO has always been about having an enchanting space with beautiful food where customers can interact with the brand – and where there is always something new to try.

But for now Allen says their immediate goal is to get past the pandemic. The plan is to prosper while staying small and agile and evaluate where things are in the summer.

For more information, visit mmelo.co.

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