Another Detroit business is facing closure due in part to city streetscaping projects. Lindsey Marr, owner of North Rosedale Park’s Town Hall Caffé, revealed on Tuesday in a Facebook post that the shop may close this winter if sales don’t turn around quickly.
Town Hall Caffé, which originally opened in 2013 as Always Brewing Detroit, is located along Grand River Avenue, an area which has been under construction since this summer as part of a $100 million streetscaping and repaving project. While the projects are designed to improve neighborhoods in the long term with features like added bike lanes and landscaping, the extended periods of road construction have wreaked havoc on local businesses in the short term.
In the message to customers, Town Hall’s owner writes sales at the coffee shop decreased by 30 to 40 percent in August and 70 to 80 percent in September. In October, the shop is projecting a 60 to 70 percent decrease. The owner writes that they turned to family for a loan last month to stay in business, despite working a second job.
While Town Hall hoped that construction work moving to the opposite side of the street last week might have improved sales, it hasn’t made much difference. “Now that we come to the end of October and I am seeing that we are still affected by construction even though it moved to the other side. I am not sure we will make it through the winter,” they write. “The fall and end of summer is the money we use to hold on through the very slow winter months. We are doing our best to stay open until Shop Small in hopes that the sales on that day with keeping us around until spring.”
Town Hall isn’t alone in feeling the pain from construction. Chef Maxcel Hardy chose to close his two-year-old Rosedale Park restaurant River Bistro in September, citing, in part, plummeting foot traffic from construction work.
Kirsten Ussery opened a second location of Detroit Vegan Soul in North Rosedale Park in August 2017. The restaurant has faced challenges in the area, including staffing issues that forced the business to open for only two hours per day for several months. Ussery tells Eater that the location has since ramped back up to normal operating hours from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday with brunch on Sunday. “However, with the construction we haven’t been able to see that momentum,” she writes in an email. The shop has seen revenue fall by roughly 20 percent since construction started.
The experiences of Grandmont-Rosedale area businesses mirrors those of other business corridors undergoing street improvements. On Livernois Avenue, home to many of Detroit’s most beloved black-owned shops and restaurants, the impact of construction was acute. The owners of Table No. 2, Good Cakes and Bakes, and Narrow Way Cafe said they saw sales fall sharply — up to 45 percent — after road work began. Kuzzo’s Chicken & Waffles, a major draw to the neighborhood, closed for renovations earlier than expected. Meanwhile, owners in the Mexicantown business district said customers were complaining and business had slowed. In response to complaints from businesses on Livernois, the city scrambled to offer shuttles and loans to assist neighborhood shops.
Now, a similar trend appears to be playing out on Grand River, where construction is taking place between M-39 Service Drive and Berg Road. The project isn’t expected to be completed until summer 2020. In its message to customers, Town Hall Caffe urged people to patronize the local business on Grand River. “We are your neighbors and your friends, by supporting us you are supporting so many other small businesses with the same dreams as us.”
Eater reached out to the city of Detroit for comment. Stay tuned for updates.
Correction: This story has been updated to reflect that the current operator of Town Hall Caffe is Lindsey Marr, and not Cody Williams. The ownership changed in January.
• Chef Maxcel Hardy’s Rosedale Park Restaurant River Bistro Closes Its Doors [ED]
• Avenue of Fashion Favorite Kuzzo’s Chicken & Waffles Closes for Renovations [ED]
• Detroit Is Piloting a Free Shuttle to Help Struggling Livernois Restaurants and Shops [ED]
• Construction Underway on Mexicantown Shared Street, the First in Detroit [CDET]