Avalon International Breads has been a Midtown's go-to bakery since opening back in 1997, but several years of growth have left it in need of more space. Nearly twelve times as much space, in fact, as a new 50,000-square-foot production facility known as Avalon City Ovens gets set to open on Detroit's east side. It was at this this warehouse that we found ourselves on Thursday evening amidst the beer, music, and the general merriment that was Avalon's open house celebration. On the corner of Bellevue and Forest, Avalon City Ovens is a startling bit of economic life just a couple blocks away from the ruins of the Packard Plant. With help from Whole Foods and and a few others, Avalon acquired the old warehouse during the 2010 tax foreclosure auction for a mere $20,500. Though some hand-painted signs from the previous owner (which apparently distributed everything from tobacco to candy) were preserved, they've obviously done a ton of work to make the location fit for food production. Everything from the floors to the shiny white walls appear brand new.
Avalon City Ovens isn't the only part of this push for expansion. This summer, Avalon plans on moving its 2000-square-foot flagship store from its current location on Willis to a new building on West Canfield, reported to be adjacent to Traffic Jam and Snug. That location will join the Eat Well, Do Good Cafe in New Center's Henry Ford Hospital as Avalon's two main retail outlets. Though the total expansion costs are something like $2.2M, you'll be able to find Avalon's products at the new Midtown Whole Foods when it opens its doors this summer. Those sales, combined with a presence on the shelves of Plum Market, Holiday Market, and restaurants across the city remind us that Avalon is now much larger than just a neighborhood bakery. Thankfully, even in its gleaming new facility, it still manages to feel like one.
UPDATE: The Detroit News confirms Avalon City Ovens also plans on hosting a retail location of its own at some point.