GTPulse: Cereal Bar Opens in Downtown Traverse City
Michael Wahlstrom moved his clothing store Gitche Gumee into an East Front Street space overlooking the water in downtown Traverse City last year.
“When we took the new space, one of the biggest draws to it was this outdoor balcony We knew it wouldn’t be situated well to work with retail, so how are we going to be able to utilize it?”
The storefront, located next door to Morsels, features a clean, white interior that provides a perfect backdrop for showcasing clothing from his streetwear collection and now, a cereal bar called Gitche Crisp.
The idea for a cereal bar has been rolling around in Michael’s head for over a year now. When I wrote about his clothing brand last year he had told me about the idea and showed me the space where he planned to build the self-serve bar. Time off from being quarantined afforded him the time to do the project.
“The wife and I had planned on taking a vacation in April because it’s usually a slow time, and then build the bar in April as well. We ended up building it but under different circumstances. It took about a month and a half from start to finish”
The concept is popular in other parts of the country. Apparel and footwear company Kith was a big inspiration for Michael. The New York City based brand added a cereal bar called Kith Treats to their locations and it’s become a popular feature for the stores.
“People wait in line outdoors to get in, just to have cereal.”
The idea for Gitche Crisp is to give customers the option to combine two kinds of cereal of their choosing with an additional topping and milk preference.
“You can get two of your favorite flavors or just two of the same. We have signature bowls which are combinations that we came up with. We have vanilla almond milk and vanilla soy, and then whole milk and fat-free milk.”
Core favorites like Cinnamon Toast Crunch and Lucky Charms will not rotate out. But for seasonal fun, months like October could feature holiday favorites like Count Chocula and Boo Berry.
Toppings like peanut butter chips, m&ms, and crushed Oreos add texture and extra Saturday morning cartoon sweetness, but it’s the spoon that invokes the most nostalgia.
“I had these spoons made. When you were a kid they used to have prizes in the box and so I had them made. They change color with the milk and we connected a keychain to it so it’s kind of like a souvenir.”
The cereal bar also features single servings of Moomer’s ice cream with the flavors changing out with the seasons as well.
“We’ll have vanilla, chocolate, cookie dough, mint chocolate chip, but they have so many flavors we’re going to be changing it up depending on what’s popular. We also have two of their sorbet options for people who don’t want ice cream. So far it’s been a success.”
In my household growing up, cereal was an answer for more than sleepy-eyed breakfasts before school. It was a late-night snack, an after school snack, or something to settle a sweet tooth. It’s still just as fun and enjoyable a food item as ever, but now you can get your fix in a pinch on a day out.
“The hours right now are when the store is open. We might change it in the wintertime, we’ll just have to play it by ear. This was just a nice add on to the experience when you come in here. Having the workshop in here, people obviously like that and now having the cereal bar in here, people are really drawn to it. It’s one of those snacks like smoothies or ice cream. It’s sweet. When I was growing up I ate cereal for breakfast every day. It’s a wonderful treat to indulge in.”
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