Sunday, April 20, 2014 · 7:27 p.m.
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Taylor and Mike Monen are opening a gelato shop called Milk and Honey near a restaurant they already operate, Taco Mamacita, on North Market Street. (Photo: Staff)

Operators of Urban Stack, Taco Mamacita and the soon-to-open Community Pie are working on another venture that will be unlike their other restaurant projects. 

“This is very different for us, but we are very excited,” Taylor Monen said.

Milk and Honey will essentially be an authentic gelato shop, she said.

Mike and Taylor Monen run all their restaurants together, but Milk and Honey is more of Taylor’s project, they said. 

Milk and Honey fast facts 

—In addition to owning Chattanooga restaurants Urban Stack and Taco Mamacita, the couple also have Taco Mamacita restaurants in Nashville and Charleston, S.C. 

—Milk and Honey leaders plan to use as many local resources to make their products as possible.

—The shop will have gluten-free, vegetarian and vegan options. 

—Taylor Monen said she has a special affection for the North Shore area. She lived there when she was 19 and said she is proud to be a part of its business community. 

—Hours will be Sunday through Thursday from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Friday and Saturday from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m.

—The shop will have about 20 seats inside. 

The gelato shop will have other options, such as quick-service coffee and a few breakfast options, but the 1,200-square-foot North Market space won’t be a sit-down restaurant, she said.

“The only food service is in the morning,” she said. “This is very opposite of what we normally do.”

And there will be a carhop service, which Taylor is excited about. Customers will be able to drive up, order and have someone bring out their order.

Milk and Honey will supply the gelato and sorbet for Community Pie and fresh fruit popsicles, or "paletas," for Taco Mamacita, Taylor said.

It will also provide the homemade vanilla ice cream for Urban Stack shakes, she said.

Gelato, sorbet and popsicles will also be packaged and available for retail, wholesale and bulk sale, she said.

And they will have a small cart to take to events around town to sell their products.  

The duo is focusing on getting Community Pie open in January, and Milk and Honey will open in the spring, maybe March, she said.

Community Pie, which will have Neapolitan pizza, handcrafted gelato and craft beers, has been Mike’s dream since before he met his wife, she said.

Initially, Taylor was going to make the gelato at Community Pie. She went to school to learn from an Italian expert how to make gelato.

“We ran out of room in the kitchen [at Community Pie],” she said. “All of the gelato equipment got kicked out. When you make gelato the right way, there are a lot of important pieces of equipment.”

River City Company leaders have been working with the Monens to help create a more vibrant City Center with the Community Pie venture, and Kim White, president and CEO of downtown economic development organization River City Company, said success stories, such as those from the Monens, may encourage other entrepreneurs to open up retail spaces.

“If we could clone Taylor and Mike, we could have downtown filled up,” she said.

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