West Village is about to lose one of its restaurant mainstays. After more than six years serving the neighborhood, Craft Work announced today that it will close its doors in early March. In a statement posted to the restaurant’s social media accounts on Thursday, the restaurant confirmed that it will host its final service on Saturday, March 7.
Reached by Eater, co-founder Hubert Yaro cited a decline in the restaurant’s business over the past eight months — very different from Craft Work’s first five years in West Village — as the reason for the closure. “There’s so many factors,” he says, noting that the downturn could be related to the changing auto show schedule or competition from new restaurants. “But at the end of the day, it was really the inconsistency of the business that kind of took its toll.” Yaro says that good days at the restaurant became unpredictable, leading to staffing challenges.
Craft Work debuted in December 2013 under chef Matt Dalton and Yaro. Yaro had moved to West Village in 2011 and saw tremendous potential in the neighborhood. Still, with Detroit in decline and approaching bankruptcy, lenders were unwilling to offer loans to businesses opening in Detroit — especially restaurants. Ultimately, he turned to the Detroit Development Fund to make the restaurant happen.
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It is with a very heavy heart that we'll be closing our doors after our final service on Saturday, March 7. It's been a unique and special privilege to care for the good people of our city and beyond these past 6+ years. We're humbled and thankful for the opportunity we've shared, and for all the support we've received along the way. This is a moment we hoped would never come, and we've been doing everything we could to keep things going. Unfortunately, the challenge has become too great. Thank you to our team, and to everyone who's helped make Craft Work what it is. We couldn't have done any of it without everyone's support. We will continue our business as usual during this time. Stop by to say hello, check out a little happy hour, and help us say goodbye with as much grace as we're able. And by all means: please do everything you can to support local businesses. If they're doing something wrong, or you feel they could improve in some way, please let them know. We all need all the help we can get, as there are far too many great people to name who are impacted by realities such as this. Here’s to bluer skies ahead.
Craft Work was almost instantly well-received, striking a balance between neighborhood bar and thoughtfully prepared New American restaurant (though customers early on had trouble getting the name straight). The restaurant’s happy hour was a particular hit. In April 2016, chef Matt Dalton stepped back from the restaurant and was replaced by Aaron Solley. The restaurant underwent multiple revamps during that period, adding a raw bar and updating the menu. However, the buzz around Craft Work appeared to wane as newer restaurants opened in the city and the neighborhood’s dining competition began to heat up.
Last fall, Yaro brought in managing partner Christian Stachel, who previously worked as beverage director and general manager at Lady of the House, in an attempt to freshen up Craft Work and attract clientele back to the restaurant. Stachel says that while the restaurant had experienced modest growth each year since opening, in 2019 revenues started to slide. Stachel acknowledge that one of the greatest hurdles was handling the large, 100-seat restaurant, which was divided into a bar and dining room. “The building owners were never really interested in breaking up the space,” at the base of the Parkstone Apartments, he says, but, “They’ve been very supportive and patient with us through our struggles.”
Both Yaro and Stachel also acknowledge that the location in West Village, while very residential, is still off-the-beaten path for many suburban clients that support Detroit’s restaurant industry. “We have to be a little bit more of a destination,” Stachel says.
Yaro and Stachel reached out to their friends in the industry and explored opportunities for partnerships but ultimately nothing panned out. “At the end of it, it was really difficult to keep things going when the inconsistency is that dramatic,” he says. Making payroll and paying vendors became a challenge. “It just became increasingly more stressful financially to make ends meet.”
Stachel says that staff were notified of the closure on Wednesday, ahead of the public announcement. “My heart goes out to our employees who’ve been with us for a very long time,” says Yaro.
Management is meeting with each of the employees individually and offering help to them in finding new positions. “We want to leave as gracefully as we can,” Stachel says. “We definitely wanted to provide ample time,” for staff to find new positions.
“I’m very proud of what we’ve done and accomplished for the past six and half years,” Yaro says. “I’m looking forward to seeing what goes into that space, because I do think it’s a space with a ton of potential.”