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Development News

Avalon expands into East Side, Midtown and New Center

Avalon International Breads has long been a staple of the Cass Corridor but it's now becoming a staple in other Detroit neighborhoods.

The artisanal bakery launched in 1997 and steadily built itself into the anchor business near the corner of Cass Avenue and West Willis Street in Midtown. It has since garnered national attention for its breads and goodies made of organic and sometimes vegan-friendly ingredients. Its small storefront at 422 W. Willis is routinely packed with customers and employees making food 24 hours a day to meet demand.

That success prompted Avalon to begin searching for a new space to facilitate its expansion a few years ago. It has now opened a retail outlet at Henry Ford Hospital in New Center, is looking to expand its Midtown presence and is in the process of opening a much bigger production facility on the Near East Side not far from the Packard Plant.

"We have been over capacity for quite some time, at least since 2008," says Ann Perrault, co-owner & CEO of Avalon.

The new production facility is Avalon City Ovens, a $2.2 million project turning a dilapidated industrial building into a state-of-the-art bakery. Avalon bought the old warehouse at 6555 E. Forrest Ave. (near Bellevue Street) at the 2010 Wayne County Tax Foreclosure Auction. The 50,000-square-foot building is a major upgrade from its 3,000 square-foot-storefront in Midtown. Perrault expects to open the new facility in January.

That project comes not long after Avalon opened its second retail location last summer in the West Grand Boulevard building of Henry Ford Hospital. That space offers all of the foods Avalon is known for and employs six workers. Avalon now employs 55 people after hiring 14 since February.

Avalon is also looking at expanding its Midtown presence in 2013. Perrault says her firm is looking at moving its storefront from its existing space on Willis to a newer space on West Canfield Street next to Traffic Jam & Snug. That move is set to move forward next spring after the Avalon City Ovens project is complete. The new space will be consistent with Avalon's longstanding pledge to remaining a part of the Cass Corridor/Midtown community.

"This is definitely important to us," Perrault says.

Source: Ann Perrault, co-owner & CEO of Avalon International Breads
Writer: Jon Zemke

Read more about Metro Detroit's growing entrepreneurial ecosystem at SEMichiganStartup.com.
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