Fifteen years before the New York Times deemed Three Oaks, Michigan an “’Our Town’ Stage for the Creative Set,” with “Rockwellian” charm, its downtown was pockmarked with empty storefronts. It was there and then, back in 1992, that Colleen Froehlich made the bold move to purchase the piece of property that would later become the organic deli and bakery known as Froehlich’s.
Willfully ignoring naysayers who told her to burn the shabby building to the ground, Colleen made it her mission to transform the storefront into something enchanting—and she did, in a manner not unlike the transformation of the town itself. As Froehlich’s blossomed to include bountiful display cases of artisan breads, jams and preserves and charming touches like her grandfather’s vintage neon grocery store sign, it came to be emblematic of the town’s burgeoning aesthetic and scene. Local artisans with a distinctly quaint, homey vibe put down roots in Three Oaks, while residents with a stake in the arts moved into idyllic white-picket-fence homes. With its friendly, old-timey, one-stop-shopping vibe, Froehlich’s is situated at the center of this creative, family-centric community. Chalk it up to Colleen’s strength of vision: before she envisioned the potential in a vacant storefront and turned it into a reality, Colleen was a photographer and artist representative.
Colleen’s artisan deli aspirations stem back to days spent in her grandfather’s grocery store in St. Joseph, where she would go after school to help out behind the meat counter. Afterward she’d head upstairs, to where her grandparents lived, and help grandma make potato salad—a recipe she still uses today in the shop. Other Froehlich’s specialties include tons of jarred foods, all of which are jarred right in the Froehlich’s kitchen on 26 North Elm Street, lending that stretch of Three Oaks the best aroma in town. And it was when an early frost threatened the still-green miniature vine tomatoes on her 7-acre vegetable garden that Colleen hit upon the idea for the delicious martini pickles she’s now known for.
We love them on cheese and meat plates, as an afternoon snack, or in a gin martini. And we always toast to Colleen!