Corktown bagel purveyor Detroit Institute of Bagels is throwing in the towel. The seven-year-old shop next to PJ’s Lager House on Michigan Avenue closed permanently in July after a delivery truck mishap caused a power surge, frying the restaurant’s fridge and putting Detroit’s only independently owned bagel shop out of commission indefinitely.
The bagel shop initially appeared like it might make a return at some point, fulfilling the boiled-and-baked fantasies of the many fans who packed its lines before the pandemic. DIB’s website stated that the “unexpected infrastructure hurdles coupled with coronavirus cases quickly returning to and surpassing their previous nationwide peaks, make it feel like the bagel gods might be telling us to step away from the kettle for a hot minute.”
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We’re putting a pause on operations. A delivery truck took out our power lines and subsequently fried our walk-in fridge. These unexpected infrastructure hurdles coupled with coronavirus cases quickly returning to and surpassing their previous nationwide peaks, make it feel like the bagel gods might be telling us to step away from the kettle for a hot minute. We plan to be back to boiling and baking as soon as possible.
While the operators publicly promised to return as soon as possible, a little more than a week later, cofounder Ben Newman began privately advertising the business for sale on social media. The restaurant is offered at a range of prices between $300,000 and $600,000 depending on whether the new owner wants to obtain recipes, processes, and a brand. Recently, the building at 1236 Michigan Avenue and its surrounding parking lot also listed for sale through O’Connor Real Estate for $1.5 million.
Eater reached out to Newman who confirmed the decision to move on from the bagel business. Like many people, the pandemic has been a clarifying experience that caused him to rethink his career and priorities. Newman says in an email that the pandemic had a major impact on DIB’s plans for 2020. “DIB was in part an urban planning/placemaking project for me,” he writes. “We had plans for a big expansion between our building and Lager House that we had worked on developing for 2 years.” But around the time the owners received their permitting to get started on the $1 million-plus expansion — March 10 — the novel coronavirus altered everyone’s plans.
Newman says that incurring the cost of the expansion at a time when few people are gathering indoors — particularly at restaurants didn’t make sense. “Further, without the positive reinforcement of seeing people gather and converse over bagels, my passion to make bagels to realize a greater vision has waned,” he writes. Newman says that he hopes selling the business and the property will allow him to spend more time with his family and pave the way for someone to take over the business.
Newman says DIB has already fielded a few offers for the business and building. DIB’s owners hope to find a buyer willing to purchase both the property and the business together, though they’re exploring all options. “Ideally someone wants to buy both because that is historically the greatest recipe for success for small food businesses, but we’re remaining flexible because the pandemic kind of requires it,” he writes.
During its life, DIB was a destination throughout the city and supplied many cafes with bagels and cream cheese. The restaurant was also a particular favorite of reigning lifestyle queen Martha Stewart.