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It was a Halloween party in 2009 that brought Macaron Parlour owners Christina Ha and Simon Tung together. “She was Lady Gaga, and I was a nerd,” Tung recalls. Ha was just back from a pastry training program at La Haute Pâtisserie Pierre Hermé in Paris, and Tung was on the job hunt and food industry-inclined; it was their shared interest in sweets that catapulted the duo into a work and love partnership. “We had the [relationship] talk, and three weeks later, we were like, ‘Hey let’s open a business,'” Ha notes. That spontaneity parlayed into street fair participation and an East Village storefront (111 St. Mark’s Place) in 2012, and it continues to serve the couple — within just one week they conceived and committed to their second brick and mortar location, opening today on the Upper West Side (560 Columbus Avenue).
The new location will offer a rotating line of 22 macaron variations, and there will be a few surprises thrown in there. “We’re not your chocolate and vanilla type of place,” notes Tung, a statement that is sturdily upheld by the bakery’s dedication to inventive flavor offerings like candied bacon with maple cream cheese and Cheetos — a Halloween jest flavor turned cult following-capable. “We tried to take it off the menu, but people kept asking about it,” he explains. And some flavors are prompted by goodwill: A portion of proceeds from each lemon macaron benefits Alex’s Lemonade Stand, an organization that supports pediatric cancer research.
In addition to the namesake pastry, the Upper West Side outpost will offer a full Blue Bottle espresso bar and an array of baked goods, from the vegan (kitchen sink cookies) to the savory (bacon, gruyere, and scallion scones; tomato pesto pretzels) plus pet friendly treats (homemade dog treats for canines coming from either one of the bakery’s neighboring animal hospitals).
And while there is much to celebrate about the company’s onward momentum, the couple agrees on the biggest upcoming development: “Getting married,” Ha says.
“If we didn’t start this company together, there’s no way Christina and I would’ve been together,” Tung explains. “Being with my wife through this process and really growing with her as a couple and as a company has definitely been my favorite part of this process.”
Macaron Parlour is open everyday from 7 a.m to 8 p.m.
More photos on the next page.