Café Ollie to relaunch and expand with fine dining and craft cocktails

The owners of Ypsilanti's Café Ollie have closed their popular Depot Town restaurant and ice cream spot to make way for two new ventures: a craft cocktail bar and fine-dining restaurant in the former café space, and a café and bakery coming to the storefront next door.

Mark Teachout, who opened the café six years ago with his wife Danielle, says the changes suit the Teachouts' "very broad concept" for the business.

"It just makes sense to separate and split into two separate entities, albeit side-by-side," he says.

Teachout says the new restaurant, simply called "Ollie," will help fill the gap for an "affordable, unpretentious fine-dining experience" in Ypsi.

"I see a real opening for a cozy place, where you can get great food and a stiff drink and actually hold a conversation," he says. "Boozy breakfast [and] brunch will also be our focus."

Classic cocktails will be a staple for Ollie, with an emphasis on Michigan-made spirits, but the restaurant will also continue serving Michigan beers and wines that will rotate seasonally.

Chef Travis Schuster (formerly of Spencer and Corner Brewery) is handling the food menu, which will also have a seasonal, local focus. Established favorites like mac and cheese aren't going anywhere, but Schuster also plans to bring in lots of fresh, local ingredients and special dinner and brunch surprises.

The café and bakery space next door, dubbed the Cream and Crumb, will offer the ice cream, coffee, and scones Café Ollie has been known for since opening. Zingerman's Bakehouse breads and sweets will also be available and Teachout plans to host live music in the space.

Café Ollie had been listed for sale about a year ago because of Teachout's degenerative arthritis, but he and his wife changed their minds about selling after his health improved last fall.

"The café was doing well, but we knew that in order to grow the business, I would have to be well also," he says. "Long story short: I got on some better meds, and we turned down the offers we had on the business, and here we are."

The owners hope to get the new businesses open by mid-March, and Teachout is optimistic about how people will respond.

"There is a perception that Ypsi is solely a 'shot and a beer' town — no wine, nothing challenging in a culinary sense — and that reflects how people in this industry invest," he says. "It takes a lot of money to open a place, and if you miscalculate you lose. So folks stick to tried and true. But I believe that Ypsi is a place where people have more diversity of thought, and I'm confident in our future."
 
Eric Gallippo is an Ypsilanti-based freelance writer.
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