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Posted on Tue, Oct 2, 2012 : 5:59 a.m.

Cafe Ambrosia owner opens 2nd downtown Ann Arbor coffee house under new name

By Lizzy Alfs

Ten years after Ed Renollet opened Cafe Ambrosia on Ann Arbor’s Maynard Street, he’s decided to expand his downtown footprint with a new store.


Elixir Vitae coffee shop opened on East Liberty Street in downtown Ann Arbor on Monday.

Lizzy Alfs |

Renollet opened his second cafe on Monday in the former Organic Bliss space at 117 E. Liberty St.

As part of the move, he also changed the cafe names from Cafe Ambrosia to Elixir Vitae Coffee and Tea.

“I knew years ago if we ever expanded, we should probably do this since there are many Cafe Ambrosias and also an Ambrosia Coffee Co.,” Renollet wrote on the cafe’s Facebook page in September.

Renollet signed a lease for the roughly 950-square-foot East Liberty Street space on Aug. 1. He spent less than two months building out the space, which included installing sinks and new electrical outlets. He also hired three new employees.

“I really feel like the State Street area and the Main Street area and completely separate markets,” he said.

“This space is close to Main Street and it’s kind of like a different world down here,” he continued.

The building — which is owned by Crazy Wisdom Bookstore & Tea Room owner Bill Zirinsky — is situated between Bongz & Thongz and Liberty Street Robot Supply & Repair.

Renollet said he’s still making the finishing touches to the space, but he has tables and chairs set up and is offering various coffee and tea drinks and pastries. He was pleased with the turnout on the cafe’s first day of business.

Citing Ann Arbor’s coffee-loving culture, Renollet said his cafe has been able to survive for more than 10 years thanks to its personalized touch and locally roasted coffee.

“I think there’s something to be said for independent coffee shops in terms of quality and the types of drinks they’re able to produce,” he said. “One of the things that does make us different from other coffee shops is we use locally roasted coffee.”

The cafe gets its coffee from Plymouth, Mich.-based Coffee Express Co. and Ann Arbor-based RoosRoast Coffee.

Lizzy Alfs is a business reporter for Reach her at 734-623-2584 or email her at Follow her on Twitter at


Ashley Zimmerman

Tue, Oct 2, 2012 : 9:36 p.m.

Please tell me it, also, will have almond and rice milk available for drinks! It's a lactose-free, soy-free girl's dream!


Tue, Oct 2, 2012 : 6:20 p.m.

Excellent, I've been looking for another place where I can hang out with other young, disaffected hipsters and fill out the NYT crossword puzzle over a cigarette and an Americano.


Tue, Oct 2, 2012 : 9:39 p.m.

you are a bitter person.


Tue, Oct 2, 2012 : 5:54 p.m.

Awesome! Definitely will patronize. Ambrosia was one of the first cafes (if not the first) in town to offer vegan treats, which was especially appreciated.


Tue, Oct 2, 2012 : 1:15 p.m.

Congratulations Ed! I'm all for locally owned businesses expanding downtown...that's what makes A2 unique. Keep the franchises out. Support them so more mom and pop shops can thrive down there and the CVS's & 7-11's can't!

Angry Moderate

Tue, Oct 2, 2012 : 10:03 p.m.

You realize that CVS and 7-11 opened their second store once upon a time?


Tue, Oct 2, 2012 : 1:02 p.m.

Great another Coffee shop! Where is our city planning commission? Let's get some "Diversity" into the Downtown area!


Sat, Oct 13, 2012 : 11:24 a.m.

xmo, I thought you were a capitalist!


Tue, Oct 2, 2012 : 10:04 p.m.

We definitely need another Bongz and Thongz


Tue, Oct 2, 2012 : 9:42 p.m.

What kind of "Diversity" would you like to see?


Tue, Oct 2, 2012 : 4:02 p.m.

sorry, after re-reading my post...its a mess. meant to say, the city officials are required by law to approve this business opening.


Tue, Oct 2, 2012 : 4 p.m.

Plus, what can the city planning commission do about a business (that meets current zoning, regulations, etc.) wanting to open? It's a ministerial (planning term, not religious), not discretionary, decision. Talk about a potential lawsuit.


Tue, Oct 2, 2012 : 1:43 p.m.

Y'know, if the demand is there, it's not such a crazy notion. Just sayin'...