After almost 20 years selling bread and coffee on West Willis in Midtown, Avalon International Breads plans to open a bakery and restaurant on Woodward Avenue in the heart of downtown Detroit. Like its first shop, it will have windows to greet the 15,000 people who live or work within a five-minute walk.
Jackie Victor, co-founder and CEO of Avalon, says the new restaurant will compliment, not replace, the Willis location. It will have its own name, Hearth and Soul, and offer healthy, seasonal salads and sandwiches and is slated to open in June in a Bedrock Real Estate building.
The new store will be located at 1049 Woodward joining a bevy of new shops, including a planned Nike and potentially Restoration Hardware along with Moosejaw, the first major pop up store to become a permanent retail enterprise.
Avalon created quite a stir 20 years ago when it put plate glass windows on its frontage, against the advice of the landlord.
“Windows are a sign of trust between the owners, the patrons and the community. It played a big part in our success,” says Bekah Galang, Avalon’s marketing manager.
Windows will play a prominent role in welcoming people inside, she says.
Three-story windows in 1001 Woodward, home of the Somerset Collection pop-up shop CityLoft, provided a backdrop for a joint press conference with Avalon and Bedrock Real Estate’s Executive Vice President Dan Mullen.
“The new cafe is a perfect fit for our shopping and dining district because of its focus on authenticity, craftsmanship, creating unique experiences and delivering the highest quality possible,” says Mullen.
With a special flourish, Victor and her team showcased a stollen, a 5-foot by 5-foot, 45-pound wreath made of bread, nuts and dried fruits for the holidays. During and after the press conference Avalon sold coffee and stolen at section within CityLoft. All the proceeds went to Alternatives for Girls, a long-time charity for runaway girls in Southwest Detroit.
“I moved here to be part of the grassroots revitalization,” Victor told the Detroit Free Press. “My concern, personally — the thing that keeps me up at night — is that we don’t become complacent and think that the work of revitalizing our heal healing our city is over,” she told the publication.
Indeed, Avalon currently operates three facilities with 75 people. The anchor bakery and coffee shop continues at 422 West Willis. There also is a bakery near the now defunct Packard Plant off East Grand Boulevard and a small coffee shop at Henry Ford Hospital on West Grand Boulevard.
The Willis store is joined by Flo Boutique, Goodwell’s Natural Food Market, the Spiral Collective along with posh lofts in the Willis, an assortment of apartments, brownstones and townhouses on surrounding blocks and a neighborhood where residents wheel baby carriages and walk to Avalon as the epicenter of the burgeoning community.
Be sure and check out the Avalon t-shirts as a less-caloric, high spirited take-away. The back contains the motto that has guided 20 years of Avalon to ongoing success — “Eat well. Do good.”
Top photo: Courtesy of Bedrock Real Estate Services