A new bookshop that doubles as a wine bar is in the works inside a former bank building at 5001 Grand River Ave. in Core City. Dubbed Vesper, the project is the brainchild of Symantha Duggan and Rob Wilson, who hope to open by spring 2023.
The duo describe the forthcoming spot as a third space focused on hospitality and ritual. What that will mean is a selection of cookbooks, translated works, tinned seafood and other snacks, natural wines, beer, a variety of amaros, as well as a selection of booze-free beverages. Wilson tells Eater that Vesper will also carry a limited supply of cookware and cutlery — items that are somewhat tough to find in the city.
Wilson says that Duggan first began aspiring of creating such a space about 10 years ago while living in Austin. Rising housing costs sent Duggan back to her home state of Michigan, but her ambition remained. Wilson — the current beverage director at Barda who previously helped to open Kiesling in the Milwaukee Junction neighborhood — had racked up many years working in the local bar scene. In 2020, the two decided it was a good time to revisit Duggan’s long-held dream and began mapping out a plan to make the hybrid space a reality.
Vesper will be situated inside a 2,400-square-foot space near century-old former Detroit Savings Bank branch, which most recently housed the Grand on River event venue. Wilson says Vesper will also focus on events programming, potentially bringing food writers from out of town to do book signings, hosting poetry readings, or collaborating with nearby chefs. Design-wise, Wilson says he and Duggan are aiming for comfy with splashes of bright colors, and touches of inspiration from the old bank. One side of the interior will be dedicated to the bookstore and the other side for lounging. They’ll also make use of the built in marble counters where customers used to write deposit slips, which now make ideal bar surfaces.