Avalon International Breads announced on Tuesday that they will be closing their flagship bakery at 422 West Willis Street. The Bakehouse first opened their doors in June 1997, prioritizing the earth, their community and their employees. They quickly became a neighborhood staple, eventually branching out into several other locations across Detroit, Royal Oak and Ann Arbor.
While their original doors are closing, Avalon isn’t leaving Midtown anytime soon. They’ll be moving into the existing Jolly Pumpkin Pizzeria & Brewery at 411 West Canfield — just feet away — to create a shared space for both of the businesses to operate out of. Avalon’s statement says their move will better meet their economic needs, foster collaborations with other local businesses and reduce their carbon footprint.
CultureShift’s Ryan Patrick Hooper spoke with Melody Baetens of the Detroit News about the legacy of Avalon’s flagship bakery. She says founders Ann Perrault and Jackie Victor defied public perceptions of Cass Corridor at the time with their welcoming, environmentally-conscious attitude.
“The two women that opened it were told, ‘Oh no, you can’t put windows here, they’ll get broken out!’ And they didn’t listen, they just opened and they really flourished.”
The location became a popular spot for people to get coffee and a quick bite to eat before work, and was centrally located on Wayne State University’s campus for easy access for students.
“It just really served the community and I think that that’s where a lot of the emotional reaction is coming from with this place closing, because a lot of people remember when it was a different kind of time in Cass Corridor,” Baetens says.
The iconic Avalon counter will reopen in its new home on Feb. 14, 2023 featuring some fan favorites, additional seating, new menu options and weekend brunch. Customers can still visit the Willis Street Café until Sunday, Jan. 8.