Dear Avalon Community,
With a new year comes a new chapter for Avalon International Breads. A chapter built on collaboration and sustainability. It’s with both sadness and optimism that I share this news related to our original flagship West Willis Street Cafe, our Bakehouse, and the opening of a new collaborative concept that will keep Avalon in Midtown for years to come.
In June 1997, when we pulled the first crusty loaves out of our hearthstone oven at 422 W. Willis, our mission was clear: a Detroit bakery with three bottom lines: Earth. Community. Employees. Co-founder Ann Perrault and I were inspired by the words of Detroit activist and philosopher James Boggs, “Don't wait for the man to give you a job. Build your own bikes, fix your own shoes, bake your own bread.” We set out to build a hearth for the community where people could be inspired to eat well and do good. Helping bring that vision to life has been the honor of a lifetime.
Much has changed in the last 25 years. The eclectic Cass Corridor neighborhood, where even our landlord told us was not ready for windows, is now filled with countless new businesses, residences, and locally-owned stores. Every year has brought new challenges and investments to an aging building that we do not own. When it became too crowded, we extended into a larger manufacturing space on the eastside of Detroit and we were able to spread the Avalon spirit to other communities in downtown Detroit and Ann Arbor.
In the past two years since COVID hit, we have worked endlessly to restart and retool the entirety of the business. Our dedicated staff and partners have invested enormous resources: time, money, heart and soul. This new economy demands collaborations, partnership, increased efficiency, a reduced carbon footprint, and shared resources. The economy has shifted and now, so must we.
On January 8th, 2023, we will begin a new chapter by reducing our Bakehouse footprint and closing our flagship cafe at 422 W. Willis. We will be moving into a new home at the other end of our alley at 411 W. Canfield inside Jolly Pumpkin, creating a shared space that will maintain the unique strengths of both businesses. We are working to transition most Willis employees to our new home and all Avalon employees will be encouraged to apply for positions throughout our family of businesses. On February 14th, when we greet you from our iconic Avalon counter, some things will have changed, but we will work to bring you the same warm hospitality with sweets baked in-house throughout the day and our espresso machine serving up rich cappuccinos. There will be some of Avalon’s fan favorites, additional seating, new menu options and weekend brunch.
In these coming days and months, we invite you to share stories and photos of your times at 422 W. Willis at our facebook page, via email, or drop off photos or memorabilia at 422 so that we can create a shared album of our memories together. Our last day of service at the Willis Street Cafe will be this Sunday, January 8th. In order to fulfill your orders, we encourage you to place them online ASAP, 48 hours in advance if possible: https://avalonwillis.square.site/order
We are not afraid of the hard work that it will take to build a more sustainable model for our bakery and cafes, and invite you to also visit our hearths at our other locations. We hope you will join us in February to share the love with our community partners in our new home at 411 W. Canfield.
Avalon Café & Bakery: 1049 Woodward, Detroit
Avalon Rivertown Café: 1475 E. Jefferson, Detroit
Avalon Corner Café: 30955 Woodward Ave, Royal Oak
Avalon Café & Kitchen: 120 E. Liberty, Ann Arbor
I thank you in advance for your compassion and understanding for our employees and our business. There are no words to express my gratitude for the hard work of our team, the generosity of our partners and, of course, the beloved community that has sustained us.