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Not So Little Anymore, Le Petit Marché Plans Expansion

When owner Marchét Sparks opened her specialty foods eatery five years ago, customers were enamoured with the gourmet breads and cheeses and other delicacies. But then the economy tanked.

KIRKWOOD — Marchet Sparks likes to pay attention to details.

And she listens.

The owner of Le Petit Marché (The Little Market) at the corner of Hosea L. Williams Drive and Howard Street credits those two traits with the growth that has sustained her business since opening in 2008.

Now, Le Petit Marché is in hyper-expansion mode. The neighborhood eatery has outgrown its 1,100-square-foot space and plans to move later this year into a new development across the street where it will be the anchor business.

The move, which Sparks expects to complete by early summer, will add some 800 square feet of additional space, allowing for 30 more additional seats, a full-size kitchen, a covered patio with outdoor seating and dedicated customer parking.

"The business has grown so much over the last three years," she said in interview this week with East Atlanta Patch. "We can't add any more tables in here."

An epicurean with a francophile flair, her original vision when she first opened was of a specialty foods outlet along the lines of a French market.

That formula worked, but then the economy tanked.

Business slowed as customers opted to purchase their breads and cheeses from cheaper retailers such as Publix and Kroger.

"I had to switch gears," she said. "I was on my way to going out of business."

What she opted to do instead is focus on breakfast offerings, something her customers said they wanted.

So she experimented with some offerings, got a select group of her customers to serve as a focus group of taste testers.

It was about a year after opening by then, that she put the new concept in place.

"I put my all into this," the Los Angeles native said. "I didn't want to lose it. To stay alive, I had to make some critical changes to the business model."

Now, five years later, business is booming and the eatery has developed loyal following, prompting the expansion, she said.

Even with the larger space and operations, she said she wants  to retain the family-run atmosphere that been the cornerstone of business. Her mother, for example, whips up the soup offerings each day. Her dad also works in the restaurant.

A self-described "ambitious but safe person," Sparks said she won't tinker too much with the business model once the relocation is complete.

It will allow her to do more catering, though, and Sparks said she will provide a delivery service component within a three-mile radius for customers.

Her business' growth has mirrored that of Kirkwood, which has seen an influx of new families with young children who have come into the neighborhood.

It's that sense of community that attracted her to Kirkwood, Sparks said.

"I saw a lot of great potential," she said of her decision to not only open her business here but also live here.

"I wanted to get in on the upswing and grow along with the community's growth. I wanted to be a part of a community."

Susannah Davis January 10, 2013 at 04:01 PM
So excited and proud of you Marchet!!!!
Alice Jonsson January 10, 2013 at 04:22 PM
Can't wait! She's a terrific person and business woman.
Chris H January 10, 2013 at 04:28 PM
Anyone have any info on the new development she will be moving into? Very good to see the Kirkwood business district growing and clearing out old rotting buidings!
Péralte Paul (Editor) January 10, 2013 at 04:47 PM
Hey, Chris H: There's a few other businesses already in there already in operation: There's a graphic design place, an energy conservation company and on Monday, a yoga/dance studio is slated to open.
Chris H January 10, 2013 at 05:18 PM
So she is currently in Kirkwood Station. Are you saying there is already a new development built across the street? Next to where the Pullmen bar is located? It's been about 2-3 months since I've ridden through there. Need to check it out.
Péralte Paul (Editor) January 10, 2013 at 06:07 PM
It's a work in progress, Chris H. it's the cluster of buildings next to Thrive Homes on Hosea L. Williams, right at the traffic light. The plans call for building an addition fronting the street so it will look different from what's there now. There's still a few permitting t's to cross and such.
Edgewood Adam January 10, 2013 at 08:04 PM
Any more info as to whether El Myr is really moving in to the Ms Winners?
Chris H January 10, 2013 at 08:05 PM
Whait what??!! You are talking about a possible second location right? There is no way El Myr would leave little 5 points.
Péralte Paul (Editor) January 10, 2013 at 08:11 PM
I've heard that that's the case but I haven't been able to confirm directly with El Myr's owner yet. I'll update everyone as soon I get definitive word about that.
Leah Marie January 10, 2013 at 08:14 PM
Peralte, How can I get in touch with the yoga/dance studio? I am a yoga teacher and could help. Thanks!
Péralte Paul (Editor) January 10, 2013 at 08:19 PM
Yes, Chris H: It would be a second location, as I understand it.
Péralte Paul (Editor) January 10, 2013 at 08:21 PM
Hi, Leah Marie: Amber Owens is the owner. She told me they expect to open on Monday. She may be reached at 404.451.7385.
Leah Marie January 10, 2013 at 08:26 PM
Thanks so much!
Kirkwood Resident January 11, 2013 at 02:26 AM
Per Kirkwood community boards el myr is opening in former ms. Winners, and in former gitchee ya ya at Kirkwood station a beer slash coffee place is proposed to open. Sherwin Williams addition was a nice touch from the abandoned building that used to be there. Another large addition to Kirkwood business is up the street at big nerd ranch.
Péralte Paul (Editor) January 11, 2013 at 03:06 AM
Yes, we've reported on the Big Nerd Ranch, Kirkwood Resident. Just as a matter of policy, we can't take as gospel what appears on message boards.
Kirkwood Resident January 11, 2013 at 12:32 PM
I totally understand. Just happy to see positive change in my neighborhood. The new / remodeling of the YMCA by clay street and memorial drive also is a positive. I can't wait for that portion of memorial to get the new sidewalks and streetscape as well. I was happy to see the new development at krog, but sure wish they had put it at Pullman yards. Would have been awesome to have that even closer.

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