DETROIT (CBS Detroit) Avalon International Breads, one of Detroit’s biggest entrepreneurial success stories, is celebrating its expansion into a 50,000 refurbished warehouse Friday.

The public is invited to stop by the expanded facility at 4731 Bellevue in Detroit from 4 to 8 p.m. Friday for samplings of Avalon’s famous savory and sweet treats and live entertainment by Michigan’s own Marianne Hayden Trio.

Tours of the new artisan bake house will be available for all the bread lovers out there so they can see where Lafayette baguette, Pontchartrain Pumpernickel, Motown multigrain, wheaty wheat, rustic Italian, Poletown Rye, and more, are all made with 100 percent organic flour.

The story of Avalon’s expansion is a tale of Detroit success, with a company that started with $6,000 borrowed by Ann Perrault and her then-partner Jackie Victor from friends and family.

“We converted an unfinished space with neither lighting nor plumbing into a full production and retail facility,” they say on their website. “With the help of dedicated volunteers, we mixed, baked, and delivered our signature organic loaves, all while running the front counter and cleaning the bathrooms at the end of our 18 hours shifts.”

They say they learned the old-fashioned way “hard work, trial and error.”

And now the company that bears the motto “Eat well. Do good.” is represented in major grocery stores across the region and had $2.3 million in revenue in 2012.

The new “Avalon City Ovens” will service the artisan bakery’s growing wholesale and retail customers and will mean a near doubling of their Detroit workforce. This is the first phase of Avalon’s long-awaited growth plan and just one piece of a $2.2 million expansion project, funded by a loan that closed in October 2012. Avalon’s other partners in the loan include the Metropolitan Growth and Development Corporation, Wayne County, Invest Detroit, Whole Foods, the Small Business Administration, the Michigan Economic Development Corporation and Main Street Bank.

This expansion will culminate later this year with the move of the store’s flagship location into a new retail outlet space at 441 W. Canfield in the city.

“This move and expansion is expected to potentially spur economic redevelopment in this industrial area of Detroit’s near east side,” they said in a press statement. “Avalon’s Willis Street flagship store will remain open and this newly refurbished warehouse will serve its production and distribution facility.”

This is how Perrault and Victor describe their latest moves on their website: “When Avalon began, our greatest aspiration was to become an inspiration to others. Now, our customers, our employees and the community are inspiring us as we find new ways of fulfilling Avalon’s mission: Eat Well. Do Good.”


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