Cakes & Ale To Renovate Three Retail Spots By Decatur MARTA Entry

Yes, the follow-up details to this story are big enough to warrant their own post!

Co-owner of Cakes & Ale, Kristin Allin, writes in…

Yes, we signed a lease yesterday to renovate three spaces by the entry to the MARTA. Cakes & Ale will take over the spot that is currently American Subs and the cellular store next to it. The bakery portion of the business will open in the current Panda Express location. Cakes & Ale will operate in the same manner as it is now, but will have a space for private dining and will have a patio along the side of the building on Church Street.

The bakery will open from morning to evening. Breakfast items will include scones, croissants, muffins, and other breakfast items. For lunch, we will bake our breads and some of our sandwiches in a wood-burning oven and will have a few other offerings such as sides, salads, and cookies. At night, the bakery will serve desserts and wines and act as more of a dessert bar. We will also have coffee and espresso drinks in the bakery.

The landlord will also clean up the lab location and remove all the old facades on these buildings, which will be great.

We hope to be in this fall.

68 thoughts on “Cakes & Ale To Renovate Three Retail Spots By Decatur MARTA Entry”


  1. I was speculating if Cake & Ale was going into the old Atlanta Bread Company space, but this is even better. The bakery should do good business since it is in a high traffic area.

      1. Yeah, the square needs a Vietnamese joint again. Viet Chateau wasn’t amazing, but it was good, and pho within walking distance is a prerequisite of the good life, IMO.

        1. It’d be awesome if Pho Dai Loi were to put a branch there– just about everything they do is great!

    1. It’s funny you say that, because that perfectly articulates the two voices in my head when I read this. One (admittedly the louder one) was saying “YES! Finally that shabby corner of the square will get spruced up and occupied by a business that serves my interests!” But a smaller voice interrupted, pointing out, “Just because those storefronts looked shabby to you and you had no need for that lab or cheap subs or Chinese food doesn’t mean other folks in town don’t value those establishments.” It’s hard to argue that it isn’t gentrification, and while one demographic (namely, mine) is thrilled by this development, another might feel it’s just one more indication that they’re not welcome in the City of Decatur.

      Then again, those who want cheap subs can walk half a block to Subway, and cheap chinese food can be had at Jin-Jin. So maybe I’m over thinking this.

      1. Lump, you’re overthinking this. 😉 (But it’s also an indication that you’re a pretty good soul, too.)

        1. I agree! This news hardly marks the end of Decatur businesses catering to lower-income folks. They just may have to walk an extra block to get similar services. This is simply a case of a prime location that was being under-utilized, and I think C&A will be a fabulous addition to the Square.

      2. These were my thoughts exactly, and I don’t think you’re overthinking this. There are at least a few of us in Decatur who can’t afford to eat at Cakes & Ale! But I’m glad any business in our city is thriving.

        1. The great thing about this news in particular is that even if you can’t afford a dinner at C&A, I’ll bet you’ll be able to afford the occasional treat from the bakery, so in a way this is a step towards the very economic diversification being discussed and hoped for.

      3. IMO you aren’t over-thinking it, lump. Gentrification is a multi-edged sword with light sides and dark sides. I’d love for Scott to chime in with some wise observations about how we can have a thriving downtown and yet avoid it becoming so spiffy and precious that we aren’t a truly diverse community any more. (These days, I think economic diversity is way more important than racial or ethnic or any other kind, in order to keep our balance as social humans.)

        1. I’m no Scott but…

          Aside from the usual tax exemptions, the other biggie is making sure there’s a diverse array of housing – from subsidized housing, to more apartments, to smaller homes that simply cost less.

          From what I can tell, this is gonna be a big issue when we all discuss the 2010 Strategic Plan.

          1. I think you’re right, DM (on all of your points). But I guess what I’m looking for is a way to think specifically about our retail environment continuing to evolve without, as lump put it, making people of lesser means feel unwelcome, or even just making them feel there isn’t anything here for them. I’d like for everybody who gets on and off the MARTA train to have a reason to stop off for a meal or some takeout or whatever–not just those in the market for high-end meals or desserts. (I know, we’re not talking Nieman Marcus here–but C&A is in the category of occasional, special-occasion treat for many of us. And for many of our neighbors it’s beyond even that.)
            At the same time, I’m no more a fan of seediness than anybody else, and I get that from The Seen Gallery’s viewpoint (in other words, seen from The Seen–I can’t help it, I’m a nerd), the anticipated upgrades across the street will be very welcome. But there has to be a way to ensure that we maintain a diverse array of goods and services, not just those that appeal to the upper end of the disposable-income spectrum.

            So, this makes me realize I don’t really know how commercial property taxes work. Does the City reap more revenue from a more upscale establishment? In other words, is a C&A type establishment worth more to the tax digest than a pho house in the same location? (Thanks a lot, lumpintheroad, I’m now craving noodles for lunch and don’t have time to go find some!)

          2. Since I got a shout out…

            In response to STG, it’s important to remember that what happens commercially, from a business perspective, is diversity-neutral. It has no obligation or desire to foster any particular social goals. It only seeks to accurately interpret the surrounding market and leverage it for the greatest profit possible.

            From a landlord perspective, landing a quality tenant that can serve as a solid anchor can ultimately raise the value of the surrounding storefronts, which will justify the raising of rents over time.

            Taking advantage of these things is what businesses do and we shouldn’t expect them to do otherwise. If a community values diversity (in whatever forms), it’s the community itself that needs to encourage or discourage things through policy and initiatives. For example, in many places, once commercial “goes upscale,” the working class simply stops going there. But because of the presence of MARTA on the square, that’s not going to happen here. There will continue to be economic diversity reflected daily.

            The question is, will upscale businesses turn a blind eye to this demographic or will they try to find ways to make money off them? My hope is on the latter. For example, there are plenty of opportunities in the context of a bakery to have offerings that are not out of reach to regular folks. If I were C&A, I’d hate watching all those people walking by every day without spending money and would try and find a way to make them customers. The majority of their menu can remain high-end, but some well placed value items could easily make a place like C&A a valuable resource for folks all along the income spectrum.

            There’s not much we can do to prevent the square from becoming overly spiffified, just as we were powerless for a long time as it became overly downtrodden. But what we can do is have policies that make it easy for property owners with second-tier properties to offer those spaces to less-than-upscale or start-up businesses without making the kind of major upgrades that would then make them cost-prohibitive. Much in the same way that NYC basically turned a blind eye to artists taking over derelict warehouses and turning them into lofts. Code violations abounded but the city knew that, with enough artists, a scene would develop, which would in turn restore and increase the value of the buildings and the neighborhood. After that, building upgrades would again be cost-viable. And that’s what happened.

            1. And then the Pottery Barns and Armani Exchanges moved in, and the artists got priced out. Sigh. It’s the cycle of life.

        1. Yes, the scales have fallen from my eyes. I see now that Mei Lan’s deportation was just the first step in an Atlanta panda holocaust!

  2. If I show up with a hammer and crowbar and start taking things apart today, would that mean this would open sooner? Because I will, you know. I’ll jog over there right now. Really. Just say the word. I’m soooooooooo there.

    1. Drop by and get me Daren!! I was just talking to the policeman yesterday who rides his bike and this very subject came up. If only all of those storefronts between the food mart and panda were gone, things would be a lot different!!!

  3. Can’t wait. I hope their lunch is similar to Star Provisions. I love their lunch but hate driving all the way over there.

  4. I think this is WONDERFUL news!! Also seems to me like the sandwich aspect of the bakery might help fill the upscale sandwhich void left by the demise of 5th Earl…. really, every detail about the bakery seems like it will be a perfect addition to downtown Decatur – congrats to Cakes & Ale for doing so well. I look forward to seeing this evolve!

        1. Bada Bing ain’t bad either

          If they weren’t closed down, Walrus. I never really cared for Bada Bing anyway.

          1. They are not closed down; I ate there the other day. They are just closed sometimes because of the catering aspect of the business.

    1. On first read through, I thought the lab was one of the spots getting taken over, but on closer inspection it looks like they will just spruce it up to fit with the renovated C&A space(s) next door. Anyone know for sure?

  5. I love C&A, and an evening dessert bar just seems like a stroke of genius! WIll be waiting with mouth watering…

  6. Let’s hope they address the poor lighting, high noise level, and lack of staff supervision. Naw, forget it, there are better choices in Decatur.

  7. The other cool aspect of this is they did such a nice job updating the old Thumb’s Up space it will be easy for another cool, small restaurant to go in their old location.

  8. The bakery idea sounds great…. I can (hopefully) grab a baguette when I come home on MARTA after work; it’ll bring back memories of living in France!

  9. One thing not clearly mentioned is that they will put a door and window in the blank wall that now fronts Church St, which will make the whole plaza entrance more inviting, along with removing the 1970s-era building facades.

    1. You’ve been holding out on us Steve! 🙂

      But that’s an equally great piece of news. That blank wall is a real dead zone along the Church St. streetscape.

    1. Has anyone else noticed that Java Monkey is labeled as “Monkey Balls LLC” on Google Maps? My dad pointed this out to me a couple weeks back when he was planning a visit.

      1. snorting coffee through my nose again! anybody else feeling like this has been an extra-long week?

      2. Glad I wasn’t the only one that noticed that, though the phrase “monkey balls” does tend to jump out.

      3. Out of sheer admiration for their chutzpah, I’d go out of my way to buy coffee there every day if they used that name on their business!

    1. Actually, it looks like C&A will move entirely to this new locale. As they say, the larger space is so they can have a bigger restaurant space, plus the bakery. No word yet on what will happen to the current location, but it’s a prime spot so hopefully something good will take it over.

  10. Eating out is getting challenging even for us teachers. Yesterday I drove past Raging Burrito while my child chanted “burrito, burrito!” and cried crocodile tears. Cheaper, healthy food at home.

  11. I don’t believe that it is always about price in terms of attracting working class customers. Taquiera del Sol is hardly expensive, yet I suspect there are very few lower income people eating there. Another example: Although Starbucks doesn’t exactly attract a working class clientele, I bet it does better in that regard than Java Monkey, which is actually cheaper or at least no more expensive. It’s a cultural thing as much as it is a cost thing.

  12. Gentrification? I have been gone for a week. You all are talking about gentrification of the square? I wasn’t aware that the square was rent controlled.

  13. Great news on cakes and ales move to the square. I am glad Raging Burrito is finally getting the square cleaned up beside them.

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