Can’t Stop Macaron Bar

Parisian-inspired OTR bakery expands to five locations

click to enlarge Macaron Bar now offers their colorful French confections at outposts across the Tristate.
Macaron Bar now offers their colorful French confections at outposts across the Tristate.

Macaron Bar at 1206 Main St. in Over-the-Rhine has been open for 10 months and is already expanding into its fifth location. Since December 2014, the bakery has staked its claim in the burgeoning cultural and foodie neighborhood. From the start, co-founder Patrick Moloughney, a former brand manager at Procter & Gamble, knew they would expand.

“We approached (Macaron Bar) with a hub-and-spoke business model,” Moloughney says, “with the OTR location as a kitchen that would supply the other locations.” So far, those other locations include a Hyde Park store that opened in June and a Kenwood Towne Centre kiosk that opened last month. Now, they’re branching into the outer suburbs with a new kitchen and store in Loveland, and venturing outside the city to open a Macaron Bar in Louisville, Ky.

Macarons have been popular in Europe for hundreds of years but caught on in the United States only in the last decade or so. The little colorful pastel cookies are made with meringue and almond flour and sandwiched with ganache, buttercream or jam; like delicate French Oreos, but available in all the colors and flavors of the rainbow. There are traditional flavors, like raspberry or chocolate, and then more experimental offerings, like matcha green tea and coffee, which can all be found at Macaron Bar.

“They are very finicky to make,” Moloughney says.

Temperature and humidity are big factors, and they take about five hours to produce from start to finish; you can watch the entire process go down in the OTR location’s open kitchen. (The gluten-free treats are also a little finicky to store — at home you store them in the fridge but bring them to room temperature to eat.)

Macaron Bar chef Nathan Sivitz, Moloughney’s business partner and husband, studied pastry with a focus on macarons at The Gourmandise School in Santa Monica, Calif. The duo lived in Los Angeles for a year and caught onto the macaron trend there. “They’re really the new cupcakes,” Moloughney says.

After California, the pair went to Europe, where Sivitz took a macaron master class at Ecole Lenôtre in Paris. Then they decided to bring their big idea back home to Cincinnati.

At any given time, Macaron Bar serves 14 flavors — 12 everyday and two seasonal. The 12 include favorites such as dark chocolate and classics like blackcurrant, a very French flavor. Over the summer, they had a seasonal peach flavor, and at the moment there is, of course, the obligatory pumpkin spice flavor for fall. In November, there are plans to make hazelnut macarons, and they want to bring back a champagne flavor, unveiled around New Year’s last year.

In terms of expansion, the aim is to open the 1,400-square-foot Loveland store at 732 Middleton Way before Thanksgiving. It will be another supply hub and cater to customers in the Miami Township and Mason areas. “We’re hoping to appeal to those that can’t always make the trip downtown,” Moloughney says.

Their customer base has tended to veer toward females ages 16-35, but step into the OTR shop on a weekday afternoon and you’ll see a wide variety of faces and backgrounds, ranging from young hipsters to cargo-short wearing tourists. “The community really shares our philosophy of experimentation and trying new things,” Moloughney says. (They also offer macaron-baking classes for those who literally want to try new things.)

The Louisville location is also set to open in November. It will be housed in the city’s NuLu neighborhood, a colloquial name for the East Market District situated between Market Street downtown and the Highlands to the east. “We have friends and a local connection there,” Moloughney says. “And Louisville is similar to Cincinnati in sensibility.” The 900-square-foot storefront will have to receive deliveries from the Cincinnati headquarters.

They hope to add a kiosk at one of Louisville’s East End Malls early next year. After that, they’ve also got their eye on Indianapolis, Columbus and Lexington, with hopes of encompassing a three-hour radius with their product.

But back on the homefront, they’re always looking to keep things as local as possible. To accompany the macarons, they also serve local staples such as Deeper Roots Coffee and chocolates from Findlay Market’s Maverick Chocolate Company, along with freshly infused tea.

Part of Macaron Bar’s business model is to donate a portion of its proceeds to local nonprofits, so the more stores they open, the more they donate — 3 to 5 percent of their profits go to Community Shares of Greater Cincinnati, GLSEN Greater Cincinnati and the Freestore Foodbank. Their Louisville nonprofit partners will be determined by January.


For more on MACARON BAR, visit macaron-bar.com.



[Find more food news and trends, including 300-plus options for every type of craving, in  CityBeat's  Dining Guide  here . Read the full digital edition  here .]
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