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AJ's Cafe to Reopen in Highland Park Church

The cafe will open under a new name in the basement of St. Benedict's Church in Highland Park, Huffington Post Detroit reports.

AJ's Cafe in Ferndale , but the coffeeshop will be back under a new name in Highland Park next month, HuffPost Detroit reported Wednesday.

The downtown coffee shop made headlines over the past five years for its supporting America's auto industry.

Owner A.J. O'Neil - which some called the "living room of Ferndale" - when its five-year lease on W. Nine Mile Road was up. He said running the shop had become unaffordable.

But O'Neil is planning to reopen the coffeehouse in August in the basement of St. Benedict's Church in Highland Park, HuffPost reported. O'Neil, a native Highland Park resident, told HuffPost he hopes the relocation will help generate interest and investment in the city.

Read the full article here.

The new location will offer coffee, a new vegan menu and continue its tradition of live music and open mic nights.

"We're in our humble beginnings," O'Neil told HuffPost Detroit. "We're taking the great things we accomplished in AJ's in Ferndale and simply moving it into a church basement."

Ferndale Resident July 26, 2012 at 01:10 AM
Apparently he didn't care enough about Ferndale to try and find a place here. I'm sure that had he looked, he could easily have found an affordable place -not- in the basement of a church. I'm disappointed, to say the least.
rolfsy July 26, 2012 at 10:48 AM
Ferndale will be fine - HP is one of our most tragically neglected/abused assets, and *the* weak link in the Woodward Corridor. Was never a huge fan of AJ's, but this seems like a worthwhile effort, and more in line with his quixotic business model. Anything that could stabilize/improve that area....
Kristi July 26, 2012 at 01:47 PM
Storefront cleanup ever going to take place at the old AJ's? I keep wondering if that mess is like an FU to the city for not being more accommodating with the lease? Just wondering...
Don July 26, 2012 at 03:38 PM
Kristi: Ferndale Code Enforcement and DDA at its best! No enforcement for landlords. Take a walk around downtown Ferndale, there are plenty storefronts that need cleaning up outside and inside.
Ferndale_1986 July 26, 2012 at 03:40 PM
@rolfsy "asset"? you're kidding, right?
Ferndale Resident July 26, 2012 at 08:42 PM
I saw people inside the cafe cleaning up when I was driving down Nine Mile today. Guess they heard you!
REF July 26, 2012 at 10:23 PM
Highland Park could be an asset, but it's just another city that racism destroyed. In fact, some of the most gulity are the former parishioners of St. Benedict who gleefully participated in White Flight in the 50's, 60's and 70's while failing in their Christian duty to reach out to their Black neighbors as they moved in. The hierarchy of the Church might have tried preaching what a grievous sin racism is as hard as they preach that you dare not vote for a pro-choice politician, but then, many of them are unreconstructed racists, too. Yes, sneer at Highland Park as you are OBVIOUSLY a superior human being, but for just another city that the automobile built and then abandoned, what solutions do you have to correct the problems? Good luck to the new restaurant!
Emily July 27, 2012 at 12:14 AM
I wasn't surprised AJ left a mess and I'm glad he's gone, he left the place an eye sore. For someone claiming to care so much about the community he certainly had a way of ripping people (and his employees) off. He failed here and he'll probably fail there too considering his business ethics (or lack there of).
Linda Baker July 27, 2012 at 04:20 AM
good luck to AJ
rolfsy July 27, 2012 at 01:46 PM
Has a great location on central woodward with easy expressway access. The housing stock on the surviving streets, even the ones in so-so condition, make Ferndale's look like ice-fishing shanties. Commercial strips have mostly been suburbanized (north end) or burnt down (south end), but still denser (and with more characeter) than Ferndale (Except on Hamilton, which has been vaporized). Again, just looking at the 'bones' of the city in the long view. Demographics can change quickly (This is Detroit, this is what we do), but they just don't/can't build things like this anymore.
Ardy July 27, 2012 at 04:54 PM
The brothers O'Neil were born and raised in Berkley.
Bob Thibbs July 27, 2012 at 09:41 PM
@Ref - Highland Park is in the condition it is in not because of the people who left, but because of the people who stayed. It amazes me that white people are supposedly racist when they flee from increasing crime and decreasing public services and property values. I also find it ironic that a supposedly open minded person like thinks that Highland Park needs to have white people to make things run. Black people are just as able to run a city as white people are. Before you call anyone racist again you might want to look in the mirror.
Buddyb July 30, 2012 at 03:38 PM
@Ferndale Resident, when you say that you saw someone cleaning when you drove by?? Does that mean littering the joint with Debris? BTW you have to actually put your face against the glass to see into AJ's old place... Nice try
Buddyb July 30, 2012 at 03:43 PM
@Don, Absolutely Correct Don! I can get a notice because I leave my garbage cans out a day late (garbage day on Thursday) because i went up north and didn't come back until Sunday, but nothing is done about the downtown aban shops.
Ardy July 30, 2012 at 05:36 PM
Code Enforcement in Ferndale was went from 1st class to the pitts. I've called because the two Section 8 homes on my street can't seem to keep their yards in order. Personally, recycling should be mandatory for Section 8 homes.
Ferndale Resident July 30, 2012 at 06:50 PM
The door was open and I saw people moving various items out of the building. ...Nice try.
Buddyb July 31, 2012 at 04:19 AM
@Ferndale Resident, My wife and I walked by there on Sunday evening and it was still a pigs sty just the way it was the last time we walked by but I'm sure its immaculate now, you're right. I apologize. :)

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