When Underground Cookie Club owners Alan Stone and Marcus Van Royse came to Muskegon last fall, they did so because “we kept hearing things about the city and wanted to check it out for ourselves,” Stone said.
“When we got here, we were really impressed with everything we saw, especially the downtown area; it seems like they’re doing so much to revitalize the area,” Stone said. “Then we came across the Western Market, which is super cute. We loved it.”
Stone and Van Royse quickly decided they wanted to bring their Underground Cookie Club—a business that makes handcrafted artisan ice cream sandwiches—to Muskegon, and specifically the Western Market. They applied, were accepted, and this week the owners announced they’ll be adding Muskegon to the growing roster of places in which they operate.
“We’re really excited to bring our ice cream sandwiches here,” Stone said, adding that they will debut in Muskegon when the Western Market opens for the season on Memorial Day weekend. Launched in 2017 as an effort by the city to promote the growth of small businesses and pedestrian traffic, the Western Market is a row of small shops, known as chalets, between First and Second Streets on Western Avenue in the heart of downtown Muskegon.
The Underground Cookie Club originated in Reno, Nevada before moving to Grand Rapids, where the owners operated the business as a part-time bicycle cart. They then moved into a food truck and, in January 2019, Stone and Van Royse opened a shop at 5422 S. Division Ave. in Kentwood. Now, they operate both the original food truck and the Kentwood space; plus, they’ve added another truck and, in addition to their Muskegon venue, they’re opening a location in Rockford.
Stone and Van Royse—who also run a tattoo shop, POPantics, next to their dessert shop in Kentwood—too are growing their varieties of ice cream sandwiches; at the Muskegon shop (and throughout their various locations), they’ll have more than 30 offerings. With names like the Chubby Unicorn, Yodarific and The Dude, the ice cream sandwiches are brightly colored culinary nods to pop culture. There are dairy-free, gluten-free and vegan options, and each sandwich has accompanying artwork made by Van Royse, who also works as a tattoo artist at POPantics.
“Since we’re doing this every day, we want to make sure it’s something we find fun,” Stone said. “We want each sandwich to look like a piece of art.”
This penchant for whimsy and well-crafted treats—the sandwiches are incredibly labor intensive to make; each one takes at least two days to create—has landed them enthusiastic fans; this past year, Grand Rapids Magazine readers named the Underground Cookie Club as the best dessert in Grand Rapids.
The business also just partnered with Nashville, Michigan-based MOO-ville Creamery, which will be making all of Underground Cookie Club’s ice cream. With this partnership, the owners will be able to have even more fun with customized flavors. For example, they have an upcoming root beer float ice cream sandwich, bourbon whiskey maple bacon sandwich, and honey lavender sandwich. At this June’s Taste of Muskegon, which Underground Cookie Club is participating in, they will feature their maple bourbon cookie and pair it with a bacon porter ice cream.
“We want to give people something different, something unique you’re not going to find anywhere else,” Stone said.