The new Manchester Market is a unique destination


While walking around the Manchester Market and seeing the vibrant atmosphere inside the building that was once vacant, one gets a feeling that this new market is unique and was created with a lot of care, thought and effort.

After taking the tour with Justin Dalenberg, who created the destination with his business partner, Ken Heers, and seeing the grocery store, nonprofit farmers’ market, butcher shop, bakery, gelateria, coffee shop, wine shop and beer cave, one word comes to mind.

“Synergy,” Dalenberg said.

And it’s their hope to get the word out about it, to Manchester, the surrounding communities and anyone interested in experiencing a unique style.

In the grand opening announcement of the market’s opening, it sums up well what one can expect.

“Several of Michigan’s leading food and beverage experts have partnered with Michelin-starred chefs to create Manchester Market, a culinary destination with multiple retailers under the same roof.”

photo courtesy of BluFish Consulting

Dalenberg said he was on the hunt in 2020 for a new, larger location space for his commercial butchery and bakery that support his Jackson restaurants when he stumbled on an abandoned grocery store in the village of Manchester.

He owns restaurants in Jackson and Tecumseh, and when he saw this spot in Manchester, he said he was excited for the potential.

Now a year later after transforming the 17,000-square-foot facility into a culinary destination, they are ready for the grand opening of the Manchester Market on Saturday, Oct. 16. The market is currently open, but the 16th will be the official day to mark this new venture.

“What began as a search to find larger space for our commercial meat processing, bakery and commissary operations grew exponentially after we discovered this hidden gem in Manchester,” explained Dalenberg, who had stints at Zingerman’s and the J.W. Marriott, part of the Amway Grand Plaza Hotel Collection, before launching his own enterprises. “After the village manager asked us to consider adding a full-service grocery store, since Manchester’s had been shuttered for year, the Market idea blossomed from there.”

He said in the announcement, “We’ve gathered an incredible collection of artisans who are passionate about great food and beverages and stellar customer service. We’re a single source for artisan breads, locally raised meat, fresh produce, locally roasted coffee, prepared meals, handmade gelato – and more. We look forward to welcoming guests from throughout Southeast Michigan – and beyond – to Manchester Market.”

photo courtesy of BluFish Consulting

Each retailer is also excited about the future.

Acorn Farmers’ Market’s Kenny Frost, store manager, said in the announcement, “I’m excited to be part of the Manchester Market because Acorn, which is the Farmer’s Market, is a 501c3 non-profit. You always get more done as a non-profit when you have really good partners, really reliable people who can help solve problems, be part of a team - something cohesive.”

Super Perky Pantry’s Steve Labbate, store manager, had this to say in the announcement, “Manchester hasn’t had a grocery store in a couple of years, so residents have been traveling to different towns to get their groceries. During the process of trying to get this open, the feedback from the community is that they’re aching to have a grocery store. Now that we’re open, the feedback has been very good.”

The new market, which is open daily from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m., is home to:

  • Grand River Butchery, which processes and sells fine cuts of locally raised beef, pork and lamb as well as grinding and seasoning a host of sausages, brats, breakfast meats and kielbasa. The proprietary hamburger blend served in Dalenberg’s restaurants will also now be available at the Market. The Butchery also sells chicken and seafood, including fresh fish caught in the Great Lakes, as well as shrimp and crab.
  • Grand River Bakery, which uses King Arthur flour and other fresh ingredients to make sourdough breads, Jewish rye, brioche buns and other artisan breads, as well as a host of specialty cakes, brownies, cookies, macaroons, pretzels and more. The Bakery accepts orders for special occasion cakes, including wedding, graduation, birthday and more.
  • Acorn Farmers’ Market & Café, a local nonprofit that sells farm-fresh produce, dairy and eggs, returning 75 percent to local growers. In addition to its green-grocer offerings, Acorn also runs a sit-down cafe that features sandwiches, soups, meals and more prepared on-site by Dalenberg’s Grand River Commissary operations utilizing its fresh produce.
  • Super Perky Pantry, a retailer known for its regional convenience stores that has partnered with SpartanNash Co. to return a full-service grocer to the community. Modeled after the popular Forest Hills Foods in Grand Rapids, the Pantry offers a wide variety of grocery staples, as well as health and beauty products.
  • Iorio Gelato, which makes artisan gelato on-site from authentic, natural ingredients, providing a modern product and experience rooted in Italian tradition. Their flavors include traditional Italian pistachio, stracciatella and nocciola, as well as innovative flavor combinations such as banana caramel praline and pomegranate champagne sorbetto.

As an example of the market’s uniqueness, Iorio Gelato’s owner Nick Lemmer said in the announcement, “We’re one of the only authentically Italian gelato manufacturers in Michigan. We use local, non-GMO dairy that makes a special mix we’ve developed from years of studying gelato in Italy. Most of our ingredients are local, but a lot of them come directly from Italy to create the most authentically tasting, delicious gelato product you can get.”

photo courtesy of BluFish Consulting

Dalenberg said they have also built a 3,500-square-foot meat processing facility and a 3,500-square-foot commercial bakery on the property. He said the space will be used to provide custom beef and pork products as well as a host of baked goods for his restaurant ventures, Grand River Brewery serving locally sourced food and hand-crafted beer and spirits in Marshall and Jackson and Doll n’ Burgers fast-casual eateries in Jackson and Tecumseh. They also serve VERITAS seafood and steakhouse in Jackson, which is owned by Dalenberg’s wife, Roberta Dalenberg.

Taking a deeper a look at the team inside the market, the grand opening announcement said Afrim Ramaxhiku, who worked in Michelin-rated restaurants chef originally from Kosovo, leads the team who works directly with Michigan farmers to process whole cattle, pigs and sheep to provide Dalenberg’s restaurants, Grand River Butchery and other retailers and restaurants with fresh, local meats.

Dalenberg said Sharyl Politi leads the commercial bakery operations, bringing talents honed while she was the director of the baking and pastry program at Washtenaw Community College and head baker at Zingerman’s. She is joined by Hannah Heers, daughter of co-owner Ken Heers, who trained at the French Culinary Institute and apprenticed at the Bouchon Bakery in New York.

photo courtesy of BluFish Consulting

In addition to its retail location in Manchester, the announcement said the bakery serves Dalenberg’s restaurants as well as other retailers and restaurants with custom desserts, breads, cakes and cookies.

“We’ve been cutting our own beef for years, and our volume has really increased. We’ve also been making our own artisan breads, buns and other baked goods because we can do that better than we can buy. We had outgrown our longtime facility in Jackson, so we began the hunt last year for a new location,” Dalenberg said in the announcement.

“This facility was originally a grocery store that was shuttered years ago. We decided to locate our commercial operations here – and the idea just grew,” he said. “Our vision is to have the coolest most unique little market ever that has the highest-quality food that uses the best ingredients.”

Another part of the team is Emmanuel Saintin, who spent 17 years working in several three-starred Michelin restaurants before working as the general manager of Restaurant Eve and Zingerman’s Restaurant, oversees all culinary activities at the Manchester Market, including the butcher shop, prepared meals in the Commissary and the bakery. He is joined by Karl York, a longtime chef in multiple Ann Arbor restaurants, who serves as chef of the Commissary and oversees all prepared meals, soups, barbeque and more.

photo courtesy of BluFish Consulting

Dalenberg said they are striving to make Manchester Market a zero-waste venture where every business supports one another and no food is thrown away. If meat or produce is unsold and still useable, he said the Commissary will transform it into organic meals or snacks to ensure nothing goes to waste.

The market employs approximately 70 people, including 30 team members for Dalenberg and Heers in the Butchery, Bakery and Commissary.

Looking ahead to the future, Dalenberg and Heers said they are purchasing an additional two acres of property behind the market, which is located at 455 W. Main St., and are already working on plans for an additional 26,000-square-foot expansion.

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photo courtesy of BluFish Consulting
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