Jan 5, 2023 - Food and Drink

Saying goodbye to a Cass Corridor institution

Avalon bakery in the Cass Corridor

The Willis Street flagship cafe of Avalon International Breads. Photo: Joe Guillen/Axios

Avalon International Breads — a Cass Corridor staple for 25 years — is closing its original cafe.

Yes, but: The bakery is maintaining a presence in the neighborhood, opening a new concept next month inside the Jolly Pumpkin restaurant on West Canfield.

Why it matters: Avalon is a Detroit institution. It opened long before the Cass Corridor blossomed into what is now a trendy, walkable stretch of Midtown featuring stores like Shinola and Third Man Records.

What they're saying: "When no one else was here, Avalon was here," Cass Higden, co-owner of nearby Detroit Clothing Circle, tells Axios. "Avalon in and of itself was a definite shift in the culture here."

What's happening: The cafe on Willis Street, which has been losing money since the pandemic, closes Sunday.

  • Avalon's other locations — downtown, inside Meijer Rivertown Market, Ann Arbor and Royal Oak — are not affected.

The big picture: The Avalon-Jolly Pumpkin collaboration is a model for shared space gaining traction as businesses look to stay profitable post-COVID, Sue Mosey, executive director of Midtown Detroit, Inc., said in a statement.

The bottom line: Co-founder Jackie Victor tells Axios she initially feared the decision to close the flagship location would be a letdown to customers, but has found the response to be overwhelmingly understanding and generous.

  • "So many people say, 'this was the first place I came when I came to Detroit,' " she says. "It's a special thing."

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