From Crains Detroit Business
Brothers aim to open Corktown bagel cafe this summer
The creators of the Detroit Institute of Bagels have come a long way from searching Google for homemade bagel recipes. Construction on their Corktown storefront site finally has commenced.
Brothers Ben and Dan Newman expect work on an 1,800-square-foot addition and renovations to the 1,700-square-foot building they own at 1436 Michigan Ave. to be completed in June.
This caps off an idea two years in the making for the brothers, who have operated out of their own kitchen since 2011.
The existing building will be a café and retail space, while the addition will be used for production, said Ben Newman, 29.
Plans also include construction of a park between the building and neighboring PJ's Lager House, including a bocce ball court, movable seating around the park and outdoor cafe seating.
The location of the shop was an easy choice for the brothers, who live in a flat nearby.
"Really, it just came down to that I knew Corktown the best," Ben Newman said. "The location we have is really ideal. It can serve the commuter market, the downtown market and the local market."
Once construction is completed, Ben Newman said, it will take a couple of weeks to fix the kinks in equipment and make plans for scaling up the operation. After that, the Newmans will spend a couple of weeks training staff. Ben Newman said they expect to hire around 15 employees.
"Most of the food will be bagel-based — bagel sandwiches, breakfast and sometimes lunch sandwiches, soups and coffee," he said.
Newman said he already has spoken with his friends who operate Anthology Coffee, currently in Phil Cooley's Pony Ride redevelopment in Corktown, to use their product.
The Newmans missed out on a $50,000 prize in the Hatch Detroit 2012 contest but managed to raise $10,000 on Kickstarter.com in the summer of 2011.
Ben Newman said it cost $150,000 for the property and around $350,000 for renovations and new equipment. Funding came from some of his own money and a couple of private investors, he said.
"We're kind of working in a creative (funding) model where the architect will have a share of the business and the contractor will also have a share," he said. "That helps us keep cash available for when we open, which is a necessity."
The idea for a bagel shop was conceived on a trip the brothers, both alumni of the University of Michigan, took to Boston in 2010. In a May 2011 interview with Crain's, Ben Newman said opening the shop in Detroit — the first of its kind there — as opposed to cities such as Chicago or Philadelphia would be "game-changing."
Offering an affordable product and creating a community atmosphere for the neighborhood were the biggest factors spurring the idea to open the shop, Ben Newman said.
"The lack of a bagel option" was one reason to start the business, he said. "But more, it's about a food business that's approachable for everyone. Bagels have a low price point, so a lot of people can come grab one, and then really it's about creating a place that people can congregate."