‘Sippin’ in the Mitten’ seeks to fill void downtown

Dan Walker hopes his recently purchased building at 102 S. Main Street in downtown Almont will become a gathering place for locals. photo by Tom Wearing.

ALMONT — New downtown building owner Dan Walker has announced that a local entrepreneur will open a coffee shop in the lower level at 102 South Main Street.

Walker plans to move his own business, Aurora Realty Group, into the building’s upper level.

Walker said he had briefly considered pulling out of the original deal because of the projected costs of upgrading the building to meet mandatory building codes.

“After meeting with the engineers, an architect and Construction Code Authority, I was blown away by the costs,” Walker admitted. “I needed to say ‘hold on a second’ and re-assess.”

Fortunately, Walker was able to reach a new agreement with Daniel Clauw, brother of former owner the late Marty Clauw, which will enable him to affordably make the required physical upgrades.

“Dan wants to honor Marty’s memory and he supports what we are doing. He agreed to a new deal that accommodates my being able to make the improvements. I’m very grateful to him and to everybody who has helped make this happen.

“Both the Almont Village Council and DDA (Downtown Development Authority) have done everything they can to offer their support — as has the community.

“I’m extremely grateful for everyone’s support and help,” said Walker. “Now, I can’t wait to get started.”

Sippin’ in the Mitten

Once the upgrades are complete, Walker said local business entrepreneur Jaime Albers plans to open “Sippin’ in the Mitten” on the main level.

Albers describes her business model as an artisan-style coffee shop where people can gather, host meetings, host school projects, fundraisers; and possibly be used as a location for Santa’s workshop during the DDA’s Holly Day Light Parade.

A U.S. Army veteran, Albers moved to Almont with her husband in 2012.

“My dream has always been to open a cafe or coffee shop in a small town,” she says. “With the help of Dan Walker, I now have that opportunity.

“I’m passionate about coffee and the experiences that accompany it. I hope to create a café known for great coffee, memorable experiences and ‘legendary’ customer service.

“I want to be a big piece in our small community,” says Albers. “We want to provide a comfortable and inviting environment where everyone is welcome.”

Albers says the shop will feature free Wi-fi access, tutoring, arts and crafts, open mic nights, board game and trivia nights; along with local artists’ works on display throughout the shop.

Late summer opening

Both Walker and Albers envision the lower level being ready to host a grand opening for Sippin’ in the Mitten in late July of 2019.

Walker said the opening could include a tribute to Marty Clauw, for whom “Marty’s Place,” a non-profit (501c3) animal sanctuary has been established in his memory.

Meanwhile, Walker is getting ready to tackle the long-vacant building’s needed physical improvements.

“There’s a lot of work to do,” he said. “But I’m excited to get started.”

As a matter of note, Walker was recently granted a variance by the Almont Planning Commission and Village Council to allow for three tenant-only parking spaces behind his building at the southwest corner of Main and St. Clair streets.

Tom Wearing started at the Tri-City Times in 1989, covering the Village of Capac as a beat reporter. He later served stints as assistant editor and editor. Today, he covers Imlay City and Almont as a staff writer. He enjoys music and plays drums and sings with various musical groups in the Detroit Metropolitan area.