Rum cake maker to offer crepes and coffee in downtown Shelton

Lighthouse Rum Cakes, which opened in downtown Shelton a year ago, will begin offering crepes and coffee in the morning and early afternoon. (Photos by Brad Durrell)

At the event to promote the new food offerings at Lighthouse Rum Cakes are, from left, co-owner Michele Vallee, Mayor Mark Lauretti, Board of Aldermen President John Anglace, co-owner Jon Vallee and Greater Valley Chamber President Bill Purcell.

At the event to promote the new food offerings at Lighthouse Rum Cakes are, from left, co-owner Michele Vallee, Mayor Mark Lauretti, Board of Aldermen President John Anglace, co-owner Jon Vallee and Greater Valley Chamber President Bill Purcell.

Jon and Michele Vallee moved their gourmet cake company to 480 Howe Ave., where they make all the rum cakes they ship to gourmet shops and other establishments around the Northeast.

Now the goal is to serve breakfast crepes and dessert crepes as well as organic coffee, partly as a way to expose more retail customers to their cakes.

They said once people taste the rum cakes, they tend to come back. “We have a lot of repeat customers,” Jon Vallee said.

Jon and Michele Vallee, owners of Lighthouse Rum Cakes in downtown Shelton, will begin offering crepes and coffee in the morning and early afternoon.

Jon and Michele Vallee, owners of Lighthouse Rum Cakes in downtown Shelton, will begin offering crepes and coffee in the morning and early afternoon.

Lighthouse will be open six days a week, including at 5:30 a.m. on weekdays.

The Vallees first discovered the taste of high-quality rum cakes while boating in the Caribbean, and then they won a United Technologies Corp. cooking contest with their own creations.

The Milford couple later started a business to make and sell them to the public, working out of leased kitchens before buying the Shelton location in 2014.

 

Fast-growing wholesale business

Jon Vallee said the wholesale business grew 500% last year, and they regularly ship rum cakes to retailers from Maine to New Jersey.

The front of Lighthouse Rum Cakes on Howe Avenue in downtown Shelton.

The front of Lighthouse Rum Cakes on Howe Avenue in downtown Shelton.

They expect triple-digit growth this year again as they expand to the Great Lakes region.

Lighthouse has added a new employee, Jelissa Gonzalez, a recent graduate of Lincoln Culinary Institute, to help out in the kitchen.

Jon Vallee said the closing of Stockbridge nearby motivated them to expand their offerings, noting there’s now a niche for good quality food to fill in the downtown.

The crepes are designed to be eaten on the go, coming in triangular-shaped cardboard cups for carrying and eating. Gluten-free options are available.

A nautical-themed menu board at the establishment.

A nautical-themed menu board at the establishment.

The Vallees learned firsthand about the popularity of crepes during a trip to Annapolis, Md., and they see an opportunity to expand the kind of crepes they offer in the future. They also hope to have more lunch-type items as well as waffles.

The coffee they sell is from a local small-batch roaster, Trumbull-based Shearwater.

 

‘Evolution of downtown’

Mayor Mark Lauretti said Lighthouse Rum Cakes is part of “the evolution of downtown.”

Lauretti said small businesses such as Lighthouse create the most new jobs, adding he once owned a restaurant a few doors down the street.

Mayor Mark Lauretti speaks during the event at Lighthouse Rum Cakes.

Mayor Mark Lauretti speaks during the event at Lighthouse Rum Cakes.

Lauretti said the area near Lighthouse could get a boost from future development, including the possibility of City Hall being relocated nearby.

Bill Purcell, Greater Valley Chamber of Commerce president, thanked the Vallees for their confidence in downtown. “They own this piece of the rock,” he said.

Michele Vallee with a crepe inside the easy-to-carry, easy-to-eat-from container.

Michele Vallee with a crepe inside the easy-to-carry, easy-to-eat-from container.

Purcell called the Vallees “entrepreneurs” and an “accomplished couple,” with Michele being a nurse practitioner and Jon a mechanical engineer.

He said the business represents their “passion,” and now they are “adding a new dimension” to the operation with the menu items.

 

New store hours

The new Lighthouse store hours, with food available, are:

— Monday to Thursday, 5:30-1 p.m.

— Friday, 5:30 a.m.-5 p.m.

— Saturday, 9 a.m.-5 p.m.

(Closed on Sunday)

 

Muffins and other baked goods on display at the Lighthouse event.

Muffins and other baked goods on display at the Lighthouse event.

A display of one the Lighthouse Rum Cake flavors available in the Howe Avenue retail store.

A display of one the Lighthouse Rum Cake flavors available in the Howe Avenue retail store.

Promotional material inside the Lighthouse Rum Cakes store in Shelton.

Promotional material inside the Lighthouse Rum Cakes store in Shelton.

 

 

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