Avalon International Breads — which first opened its first bakery at 422 W. Willis St. in Cass Corridor in 1997 — is closing its flagship location. A news release published Wednesday morning says that on Jan. 8, the original Avalon cafe will move to a space with Jolly Pumpkin at 411 W. Canfield in what the company describes as a “new, collaborative concept.” When the newly imagined spot opens on Feb. 14, it will feature several Avalon staples, along with additional seating, new food options, and weekend brunch. According to Crain’s Detroit, Avalon also plans to sell its 50,000-square-foot bakehouse on the city’s east side.
“While we leave our first home of more than 25 years with both sadness and gratitude, we look forward to building a sustainable model combining the resources and strengths of both businesses,” says Avalon co-founder Jackie Victor in the written statement.
A specific reason for relocating was not mentioned in the announcement, however, the statement did say that the COVID-19 pandemic forced many businesses in the food industry to rethink the way they operate and to turn to collaboration as a path forward.
“Although Midtown Detroit, Inc. feels the loss of this anchor business at its original location on Willis, we are excited about two Midtown businesses with shared ownership coming together to co-locate,” said Sue Mosey, executive director of Midtown Detroit Inc. in the statement. “This model is one we are seeing across the district and will accelerate as a going forward model post COVID for a number of other local businesses. As the market has changed in all urban districts during COVID, our local entrepreneurs who are developing new models in response are much more likely to be profitable long term, which is the most important outcome”.
Most current Willis Street employees will be transferred to the new location and all Avalon employees are invited to apply for positions at all five Avalon locations. Operating hours at the other locations will not be affected by the move.
In October, Avalon announced that it would be expanding its footprint to include locations inside the small-scale Meijer supermarkets on East Jefferson and in Royal Oak. Those cafes replaced Great Lakes Coffee Roasting Company, which shuttered the doors of its Midtown location in early 2022 amid a barista strike in a bid to unionize amid pandemic-related safety concerns.
The stalwart bakery has also ramped up its food waste reduction efforts with the launch of the Upcycled Grain Project, in which spent grains from leftover brewer’s barley is used to produce snack crackers. Distribution of those products are expected to begin sometime this year.