Cass Café to close its doors

The Cass Corridor staple announced that July 17 will be their last official day of business.

Customers sit at a table at Cass Cafe in front of artwork on the wall.

Interior of the Cass Café, 2018.

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The rumors are true: The legendary Cass Café is closing its doors after 29 years. Melody Baetens of The Detroit News confirmed with the café’s owner, Chuck Roy, that July 17 will be their last day of business. As the restaurant industry faces rapid changes, she says Roy is just looking to retire.

“If you want to get your favorite stuff, you gotta get in there.” — Melody Baetens, The Detroit News

Situated prominently in Cass Corridor, the café was a staple to both students from Wayne State University and to local artists. Artists like Tylonn J. Sawyer, Gilda Snowden and Paul Johnson (also known as FFTY) had some of their first shows at the Cass Café’s gallery, and the space served as an influential gathering place for emerging artists.

As for the food, though the menu hasn’t changed much since the late ’90s, it was ahead of its time for vegetarian and vegan dining, Baetens says.

“It was also one of the first places where you could get a vegan anything or a vegetarian anything besides a salad or a grilled cheese. They really catered to a lot of different dietary needs before it became the norm in restaurants.”

Baetens says the future of the building is still uncertain.

“[Roy] said they have some commitments at the end of the summer, they may reopen for Dally [in the Alley]. There’s a lot of uncertainty, but we do know that after July 17th, it’s gonna be dark for a while. So if you want to get your favorite stuff, you gotta get in there.”

 

Photo credit: Ryan Patrick Hooper/WDET


Listen: Melody Baetens talks Cass Café closing and new restaurants opening.

 

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Authors

  • Ryan Patrick Hooper is the award-winning host and producer of CultureShift on 101.9 WDET-FM Detroit’s NPR station. As a longtime arts and culture reporter and photographer, Hooper has covered stories for NPR, Detroit Free Press, Hour Detroit, SPIN and Paste magazine.

  • Sophia Jozwiak is the Digital Content and Communities Assistant for 101.9 WDET.