Both COVID-19 and family-related reasons played a part in the decision to shutter the Corktown bagel shop.
Detroit Institute of Bagels, a popular Corktown bagel shop, is shutting its doors and owner Ben Newman confirmed to the JN he has decided to sell the business.
Newman and DIB were in the process of working out an expansion project between their building and nearby PJ’s Lager House, and had been working with an architect and kitchen designer for two years while developing plans, eventually receiving permits on March 10 of this year.
Just a few days later, Gov. Whitmer signed an executive order closing restaurants and bars over COVID-19 concerns, and the plans folded.
“This was going to be a new and exciting challenge that helped realize the long term vision for the business of using bagels to invest in our people, community and future,” Newman said in an email to the JN. “But, right now and for the foreseeable future it seems kind of insane to take out $1M+ loan to build more capacity and seating.”
Newman stated that without the positive reinforcement of seeing people gather and converse over bagels, his passion to make bagels to realize a greater vision had waned.
“Additionally, I have aging parents and a 10-month old and it’s important to me for them to be able to spend time together,” he said.” So, spending all my time working to operate DIB at a portion of our previous business seemed silly.”
Newman also felt it would be silly to let a place that has the capacity to make bagels sit empty for any longer than it needed to, which is why he’s exploring a sale.
He said he has already had a couple of offers on the business and building, from people who he thinks will bring new positive energy to the area.
“As a neighborhood resident and experienced bageler I will do my best to make sure whoever takes it over is set up for success,” Newman said. “Nothing formalized enough to share yet, but I am confident the space will be making great bagels again sooner than later.”
Newman, whose background is in urban planning and food service, wanted to use bagels to activate a vacant building, create a destination food business and provide living wage jobs in the community. One of DIB’s first events to generate publicity was a fundraiser at the Isaac Agree Downtown Synagogue. Corktown had been the home of DIB since 2013.
As for what’s next for Newman, he’s keeping his plans close to his chest.
“In the short term, I want to continue to focus on family and also make sure that the next operators are off to a great start,” he said. “Long term, I am interested in finding new meaningful ways to serve the community beyond boiling bread.”