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A Coffee and Ice Cream Shop Is Filling the Former Gayle’s Chocolates Building

Proving Grounds Coffee is adding a second outpost in downtown Royal Oak

James Courtney (left) and Daman Auvenshine (right) in front of the former Gayle’s Chocolates Space, where they have signed a lease to open a second location of Proving Grounds Coffee in Downtown Royal Oak.
[Courtesy photo]
Brenna Houck is a Cities Manager for the Eater network. She previously edited Eater Detroit and reported for Eater. You can follow her on the internet at @brennahouck.

A new coffee and ice cream shop is poised to open this summer in downtown Royal Oak. Milford-based roaster Proving Grounds Coffee confirmed on Tuesday afternoon that the owners have leased the former Gayle’s Chocolates building at 417 South Washington Ave. in downtown Royal Oak.

The 34-year-old confectionery decamped for warmer climes in Arizona last May, leaving the storefront vacant. Now Proving Grounds owners James Courtney and Daman Auvenshine plan to expand their two-year-old cafe, roastery, and creamery to a second outpost this summer, per a release.

The two-story building will feature a ground floor cafe with seating, a stage for live performances, and views of the roasting room. The second floor, formerly home to Gayle’s clerical offices and chocolate production facility, will be devoted to study space, rentable rooms for conferences and events, and “a large common area for families with children.” The owners plan to roast beans on site and add ice cream production to the mix at a later date.

Proving Grounds isn’t the only spot slated to land in downtown Royal Oak soon. Rooftop bar and restaurant Pinky’s is heading to the space above Diamond’s Steak & Seafood in April. Kaizen Ramen, and City Ramen are also on track to open soon in the area.

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Proving Grounds Coffee

417 South Washington Ave., Royal Oak, MI