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Monday, April 20, 2009

CAFE CON LECHE

While he at first did not succeed, Jordi Carbonell is trying again. Actually, he wasn't the one who did not succeed, but instead, it was the the initial location of Jordi's neighborhood coffee shop, Cafe Con Leche, inside the Mexicantown Mercado at Bagley and 21st, which failed and, which is now padlocked, unfinished, and void of even a single business. (For more information on the mercado's circumstances click here) After less than a year at the Mexicantown Mercado, it was readily apparent to Jordi that he needed to move his business to a new location if it had any hope of surviving.

With floor to ceiling windows, painted walls, and art on display and for sale, Cafe Con Leche in its new location facing Clark Park at W. Vernor and Scotten in the Carnival Bar's former location, is doing more than surviving, it's flourishing. The comment overheard which I found most entertaining as I enjoyed my espresso was from a young lady who exclaimed, "Wow, this place is really nice, I don't feel like we're in Detroit." While a bit back handed, the message was clear.

Jordi believed he could do better in a new location, but Cafe Con Leche's instantaneous success was a surprise. According to Jordi, revenue increased two times over within the first month. Located nearby on Scotten, students and teachers from Western International High School continually stop in, along with passersby, and even customers from the coffee shop's Mexican Mercado days who just can't do without caffeine from Jordi. Inside, Spanish was the predominate language spoken, and it adds to an engaging ethnic atmosphere.

Cafe Con Leche serves up standard coffee shop fare such as freshly brewed coffee, and espresso drinks, but features some interesting options such as Cuban Coffee. Drink prices are more than reasonable which was even more painfully evident when I ordered the same triple shot of espresso in Birmingham at Java Hutt II and paid 50% more.

Additionally, sandwiches are catered from (I believe) Lunchtime Global, located downtown, in the First National Building, 1/2 block east of Woodward on Congress (CORRECTION: Sandwiches are catered from "Lunchtime", in New Center, located next to the Fisher Building in the New Center One Building at 3031 W. Grand Blvd.). Donuts, croissants, and home baked pastries, including brownies, and pecan pie were displayed on the counter. Wifi, and newspapers, both in English and in Spanish, are also available.

Even with all that's available, Jordi seems to be a main attraction for adoring customers, and I have to admit, he seems like a good guy. I immediately took to him, when, after a bottle of the Mexican soda, Jarritos, caught my eye, I asked him if he had the grapefruit flavor and he assured me that while he did not, he would get it.

When I first walked in, it crossed my mind that Jordi wasn't from Latin America, yet he spoke Spanish with customers and, hey, it's Southwest Detroit we're talking about here. Turns out he's from Barcelona, which was a nice surprise, as I'm not aware of too many Spaniards living in the Metro Detroit.

As a tapas fan, I asked him if he knew of any good tapas restaurants here in Metro Detroit. His response was drawn out, but it was evident that his answer was some version of "no." When I pressed him further, he said that if one was to eat tapas here, Sangria in Royal Oak is not somewhere he would recommend, and while downtown's Vicente's tapas weren't completely up to his standards, Vicente's paella was the closest that he has tasted to that of his native land.

Apparently Jordi is in Detroit because, but of course, his wife is from here. He told me that he met his wife while she was studying abroad in Spain. I don't know the details, but the bottom line is that he's here now, and he's brought a refreshing coffee shop option to Southwest Detroit. Just as Charles Sorel and Le Petit Zinc are great additions to Metro Detroit, Jordi and Cafe Con Leche are as well.

Below are photographs taken at Cafe Con Leche.

You can find the entire flickr set from Cafe Con Leche here.





Cafe Con Leche
4200 W Vernor Hwy
Detroit, MI 48209
(248) 736-1196
Detroit Army

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