A new shop called Provisions is bringing two of the best things in life — chocolate and cheese — to Ferndale this fall. Partners William Werner and Zach Berg tell Eater that they plan to open a new specialty chocolate and cheese counter to 1030 Woodward Heights in the next several weeks, sharing a space with neighborhood butcher shop Farm Field Table.
Werner and Berg are childhood friends who share a passion for food. Berg got his start working at Zingerman’s Deli in Ann Arbor and has a culinary degree from the Culinary Institute of America. For many years he worked the cheese counters at Bi-Rite Markets in San Francisco before deciding to return to metro Detroit.
Werner had a somewhat less direct journey to the food industry. “I was always into food and I wanted to work in the business but it took a lot of hemming and hawing to find out that I didn’t want to be in a kitchen full time from a lifestyle standpoint,” he says. “Finding a way to get into this industry in a way that fit my values and my home life took a while.”
In 2015, after a career doing environmental consulting in the Bay Area, Werner took his first culinary job assisting a family member in running Gayle’s Chocolates in Royal Oak. “I delved into the beans and bars chocolate world and was fascinated,” Werner says. Learning about the different process for making chocolate “was a way to marry my geeky science career with my love of food.”
With the opening of Provisions, Werner and Berg hope to introduce customers to a greater variety of quality cheese and chocolate. The 120-square-foot space will be outfitted with an 8-foot deli case featuring roughly 40 different varieties of American and imported cheeses. “We have a ton of respect and admiration for local products,” says Berg, but part of the experience will be “connecting people to different places and different times and different makers from around the world.”
Shelving on the wall will display dry goods including “small batch and beans to bar chocolate,” according to Werner. The shop will also offer a limited selection of charcuterie and possibly other accompaniments such as olive oil. Cheeses will be cut to-order and the owner’s also plan to offer pre-order trays for parties.
While Provisions is still getting off the ground, the Ferndale shop isn’t the only thing Werner and Berg have in the works. The partners tell Eater that they recently won a $5,000 grant through TechTown’s Retail Bootcamp to invest in a location in Detroit.
Provisions’ Detroit outpost will likely include a lunch counter with grilled cheeses and items that “play off of our core products,” Werner says. “We want to give people a chance to enjoy them and not just give them the things to take home and do themselves.”
Werner says they hope to “get that going and get through the holidays” and then begin scouting out locations in the core downtown neighborhoods and possibly the University District.
An inspection is scheduled for late October, which could set up Provisions for an early November debut.