THAT ABANDONED BUILDING building at 231 West Washington downtown? The one that used to house a teen night club? The one that hasn’t had a tenant for over a decade?
It’s been sold, and with any luck, major renovation of it will start by springtime, with occupancy ready by late summer.
And here’s the surprising news that might have some folks scratching their heads: The first floor and the basement will become a bakery/cafe/coffee shop. The name? 231 West.
Surprising, because Babycakes, a longtime downtown institution that, itself, was recently sold, is located just two doors away. It also could be described as a bakery/cafe/coffee shop.
Matt Beardsley, the owner of 231 West, says there’s room for both. “We might be similar,” he says, “but we’ll differentiate ourselves from them. We’ll be more of a patisserie (a French pastry shop). We’re not trying to step on anyone’s toes. Look at Aubrees and the Portside. Two restaurants, they’re almost next door neighbors, but they’re different, and they’re both doing fine.”
So what will 231 West offer? European-style pastries–croissants, little cakes, cookies, brownies. No donuts, no muffins. It’ll also serve quick, light breakfasts and lunches–soups, sandwiches, and salads. Beardsley compares the food they’ll offer to some of the cuisine we’d find at the Zephyr and the Marq.
The main floor, on the street, will be cafe-style. The basement will have more of a casual, coffee shop atmosphere.
And the coffee at 231 West? It’ll be coming from Velodrome, the new coffee shop that opened earlier this year just a few blocks down on West Washington.
It seems our craving for coffee hasn’t been satiated yet.
Beardsley, an avid cyclist, arrived in Marquette a year and a half ago. Why here? His wife’s family is from the area and on visits to the U.P., he came to love it. It seems we’ve heard this story before.
Anyway, he’s got 15 years in the food service business–Jimmy John’s and another pastry shop in Raleigh, Lucettegrace, where he’s still a partner. He says he hopes to replicate Lucettegrace’s success here.
As for the 231 building itself, it was actually bought by an out-of-state family with roots in Marquette. Beardsley signed a deal with them to open up 231 West while the family has the upstairs renovated for apartments.
All in all, a welcome change for downtown. An eyesore about to be healed.
What it tells you, above all–in case there was any doubt–is that businesspeople are clamoring to locate there. Even when there’s direct competition just a couple of doors away.
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