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Posted on Tue, Jun 5, 2012 : 2:55 p.m.

Cafe Japon restaurant to close on East Liberty Street in downtown Ann Arbor

By Lizzy Alfs


The space at 113 E. Liberty St. is now available for a new tenant after the Cafe Japon owner decided not to renew her lease.

Lizzy Alfs |

Cafe Japon, a Japanese restaurant and bakery with a French influence, is closing its East Liberty Street storefront after owner Miyoko Honma decided not to renew her lease, a real estate agent confirmed Tuesday.

The 1,400-square-foot space at 113 E. Liberty St. is listed for lease with Deb Pearson of Bluestone Realty Advisors. The asking annual rent is $28-per-square-foot, according to the listing.

Pearson confirmed via email that Cafe Japon is not renewing its lease and Pearson is in the process of searching for a new tenant.

That tenant, she said, will be "another restaurant or other retail concept."

The East Liberty Street storefront — which is located near the South Fourth Avenue intersection — was placed on the leasing market last year while Honma considered closing Cafe Japon or moving to a new location.

It was taken off the market after Honma renewed her lease for one more year. At the same time, she expanded her menu to offer additional food items.

Honma was not available Tuesday to comment, and it's unclear if she plans to search for a new restaurant location.

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


Miyoko Cafe Japon

Fri, Jun 8, 2012 : 3:51 a.m.

Dear Cafe Japon Patrons, I forgot to mention when we will be closing the Cafe. The dining part (restaurant) will be closed effective July 1 (Sun); will be open until 6/30 (Sat). The bakery will be open until 7/21 (Sat). We will have customer appreciation week (6/24-6 /30 open until 8:00pm) where we offer many different specials, such as Spaghetti Bolognese, Sushi Napoleon, Macaroni Gratin, Meatloaf, Ratatouille, Special Ramen Soup, etc. Please check our website for details. On 6/24 (Sun), we will have new crop tea tasting. Since (20) seats are available for each session – 3:30pm and 6:00pm, please make a reservation as soon as possible. Thank you. Best regards, Miyoko Honma Cafe Japon


Wed, Jun 6, 2012 : 10:34 p.m.

It's tragic there are so few places left for a nice $6 croissant in downtown Ann Arbor.


Wed, Jun 6, 2012 : 10:09 p.m.

Never fear, I checked with Morgan and York and they will continue to carry Cafe Japon bread and pastries 7 days a week.


Wed, Jun 6, 2012 : 1:22 p.m.

No!!!!! This is a fantastic place!!! Some of the best food in the area. Please, please reopen somewhere else, Ms. Honma! Come to Ypsi!

Gregor Scott

Wed, Jun 6, 2012 : 1:19 p.m.

Only ate there once, and the food was very good. However, the service was very, very slow. This was a big problem since I was one of three people in the place at the time...


Wed, Jun 6, 2012 : 12:36 p.m.

I thought everything - esp the baguettes - were better than Zingermans. But unfortunately, good product doesn't always mean success. From all I've read, opening and running a restaurant is complete hell in any economic climate. I can't imagine doing so in the past few years made it any easier. Kudos for making this long and good luck with the food hub thing. Hope to continue seeing the baguettes at the Farmers market.

Miyoko Cafe Japon

Wed, Jun 6, 2012 : 4:50 a.m.

Comments (2 of 2) At the end of 2012, or the beginning of 2013, if everything works out nicely, I will be opening a bakery in the Washtenaw County Food Hub, located on Whitmore Lake Rd., where I plan to bake artisan breads, pastries, cakes and other baked goods, using local organic ingredients as much as possible. I am interested in gluten-free products as well. I may also offer baking classes. I am an objective-driven person. For what I want to do next, Cafe Japon does not need to exist in the current location, 113 E. Liberty. The current location is not viable for what I would like to do. Of course, I will miss all of you who have been coming to 113 E. Liberty by walking or bicycling. Please come to see me at the Farmers' market on Wednesdays and Saturdays. I continue to strive toward my goals in life and greatly appreciate your support during the Cafe Japon era. Best regards, Miyoko Honma


Wed, Jun 6, 2012 : 5:20 p.m.

Ms Honma, thank you for writing! I wish this reporter hadn't rushed to post this item without getting your input first. Please add me to the chorus of people who think your baking is superb. Sally, if you want to try the baked goods, don't wait, just go to Cafe Japon before the end of the month, or buy them at the Farmers' Market. The Washtenaw Food Hub is just getting started, at 4175 Whitmore Lake Road, less than 2 miles north of the river. It may have retail sales, but it's going to to be much more than that. They're planning to be a business incubator and integrator, connecting local farmers and other food producers with people, businesses, and institutions that will use their products. If Ms. Honma is baking out there, her products will probably be distributed to many local retailers.

Mike D.

Wed, Jun 6, 2012 : 12:02 p.m.

Thank you for outlining the next steps in your adventure! In addition to the Farmer's Market, will you continue to sell baguettes to Morgan & York? Nobody I know will ever be able to have dinner again if you do not! ;)


Wed, Jun 6, 2012 : 9:30 a.m.

Thank you, Miyoko, for the details on your future endeavors. Clearly, the comments by the readers in this story reflect great appreciation for your culinary skills and the delicious products of those skills. I, for one, am very glad to hear you will remain part of the food community in this area, hopefully for many years to come. Good luck in pursuing your passions; you are an inspiration.

Silly Sally

Wed, Jun 6, 2012 : 7:38 a.m.

A big problem with 113 E Liberty is the cost, 28 per Sq. Ft or almost $40,000 a year, $3300 a month or $110 a day. This directly added to the cost of everything, as the high rents do to all downtown. Now, I need to try one of those artisan breads, pastries, cakes and other baked goods; especially a baguette. Where on Whitmore Lake Road? Those businesses between Old St. Pats and M-14

Miyoko Cafe Japon

Wed, Jun 6, 2012 : 4:48 a.m.

Dear Cafe Japon Patrons, Time flies! Since I opened Cafe Japon in 2007, five years have passed! The sole, initial objective for opening Cafe Japon was simply "Making excellent tasting baguettes". I have dedicated 80% of my time to Cafe Japon operations (20% sleep) for five years, doing almost nothing else. Now, judging from your generous compliments, and through my daily tasting, I believe that I have achieved my goal of making excellent tasting baguettes. My next goal is to write a cook book through experimenting with many different recipes. Also, I would like to learn more about food science – the reasoning behind certain phenomena, especially in baking – so that I will have sound solutions to problems when they occur. I will continue to make baguettes, pastries and cakes available at the Ann Arbor Farmers' market on Wednesdays and Saturdays. At the same time, I would like to improve my jazz/funk piano performance skills. Recently my husband produced a CD entitled "Ann Arbor Suite" which consists of song focused on the positive aspects and places of Ann Arbor (for more information regarding this CD, please access "Lucy Ann Lance Show – Business Insider 5/18 (Fri))." We will be donating all proceeds from the CD sales to "826 Michigan", which is located next door to Cafe Japon. In the CD, I am playing the piano. When the CD becomes available in 4-6 weeks, please support this effort. Thank you. Miyoko's comments (1 of 2) - Please read (2 of 2)


Wed, Jun 6, 2012 : 2:34 a.m.

Good food, I've been meaning to go back.


Wed, Jun 6, 2012 : 1:46 a.m.

Very sorry to hear they're closing. This is a delightful gem of a restaurant. A quiet oasis, and outstanding Japanese curry...

Good Day

Wed, Jun 6, 2012 : 1:17 a.m.

Cafe japon is open until the end of June and has her wonderful breads and pastries every day fresh.


Wed, Jun 6, 2012 : 1:22 a.m.

Thanks! Good to know.


Wed, Jun 6, 2012 : 1:14 a.m.

Downtown is seriously going down the tubes. I bet it gets replaced by a bondage shop or a leasing office.

Walid Yassir

Wed, Jun 6, 2012 : 12:49 a.m.

Bummer - This was the best baguette for miles!


Tue, Jun 5, 2012 : 11:30 p.m.

Food: Tremendous Business: Tragic SNARK: I soooooooo called this.


Tue, Jun 5, 2012 : 11:17 p.m.

Okay, now I HAVE to try one of these infamous baguettes!! Where can I find one??


Wed, Jun 6, 2012 : 3:09 a.m.

Farmers market on Saturday

Tom Teague

Wed, Jun 6, 2012 : 12:18 a.m.

Morgan and York on Packard. Go early.

Trisha Carey

Tue, Jun 5, 2012 : 11:01 p.m.

I am so sorry to hear about the closing of Cafe Japon, I'm wondering if more information can be written about Miyoko Honma's future plans. And referral for the Morgan & York enterprise ????


Wed, Jun 6, 2012 : 12:45 a.m.

Morgan and York is the wine and gourmet cheese, charcuterie and chocolate shop, the former Big 10 Party Store, just a bit south of Stadium on the west side of Packard. It is one of the gems of Ann Arbor, like Ms. Honma.


Tue, Jun 5, 2012 : 10:54 p.m.

This is unfortunate. I've only ate there once and I recall it was a pleasant experience. But every time I passed by, it had a lot of customers in there. Too bad they can't stay there, it was definitely a different dining experience.


Tue, Jun 5, 2012 : 10:09 p.m.

Seriously sad to hear. Loved. Wish I had made it there more often


Tue, Jun 5, 2012 : 9:59 p.m.

Sorry to hear it.

Joe DeMatio

Tue, Jun 5, 2012 : 9:25 p.m.

Ms. Honma's pastries are divine. Her baguette is probably the best in the Midwest and puts Zingerman's baguette on the trailer. Her strength was not in running a restaurant; she and the staff were always harried and disorganized and I long ago gave up trying to get meals there, either for dine-in or carry-out. So I'm not surprised to see that she's giving up the stress of daily meal service but I wholeheartedly join those who hope that she continues to provide her pastries to Morgan & York and other area retailers.


Wed, Jun 6, 2012 : 12:26 a.m.

And the heavenly ganache-filled croissants. Those and a cup of Tommy York's celestial espresso are my favorite breakfast.

Mike D.

Tue, Jun 5, 2012 : 10:38 p.m.

Agreed. Being a good baker does not make one a good restauranteur. I hope this change allows Miyoko to focus on what she loves and churn out more of those divine baguettes.

vicki honeyman

Tue, Jun 5, 2012 : 8:39 p.m.

This is the saddest news ever! I send shoppers in my store there for lunch all the time. I send shoppers in my store (and of course everyone else I talk to) there for baguettes all the time (Miyoko's baguettes are the very best in town!). I go there for egg salad sandwiches and sushi en fleur and sushi napoleon and I will so miss this wonderful little gem. -Vicki Honeyman


Tue, Jun 5, 2012 : 8:38 p.m.

Ok, where else can I get matcha in this town??? It's just not the same when I try and do it at home. I need that little whisk thing.


Tue, Jun 5, 2012 : 8:31 p.m.

Bong store that sells cheezburgers and cell phones coming right up!


Tue, Jun 5, 2012 : 8:18 p.m.

Bummer. Their red bean and walnut croissants are to die for, especially on a cold winter's day.

Good Day

Tue, Jun 5, 2012 : 8:18 p.m.

Her DELICIOUS food WILL be available nearby. Please contact Ms. Honma to update the information! No one bakes or cooks as she does!

Heidi Koester

Tue, Jun 5, 2012 : 8:09 p.m.

The restaurant business can be brutal. The quality and tastiness of the food you make is just one ingredient in having a successful restaurant. We went to Cafe Japon one time for lunch, prior to seeing a movie. We had left plenty of time to not have to rush through lunch, but it took more than an hour to get our food. So in the end it was a mad dash to bolt down our meal and get to the Michigan Theater without missing too much of the movie. This may have been a very atypical experience for Cafe Japon, but I can't say I ever went back to try again. I honestly don't know how restaurants are typically able to serve food as fast as they do, but for a downtown lunch place, I would think a speedy kitchen would be essential.

Stupid Hick

Tue, Jun 5, 2012 : 8:56 p.m.

Admittedly, sometimes the service was very slow, but I still liked it.

Tom Teague

Tue, Jun 5, 2012 : 8:31 p.m.

Agree that the service could be uneven, though i had a couple of wonderful lunches there. I think most of us lamenting the closing chiefly bought prepared bake goods from the shop or from other stores that carry them.


Tue, Jun 5, 2012 : 8:02 p.m.

What a shame. Ms. Honma really knew how to prepare exquisite food.


Tue, Jun 5, 2012 : 7:51 p.m.


Nick Danger

Tue, Jun 5, 2012 : 7:29 p.m.

They had the best baguette i have ever eaten.This will be a huge loss. Maybe Zingermans or another retailer should contract with Ms. Honma to make their french Baguettes


Wed, Jun 6, 2012 : 1:43 p.m.

Eve's bread was Ms.Honma's baguettes.


Tue, Jun 5, 2012 : 8:03 p.m.

Her chocolate croissants were to die for!

Tom Teague

Tue, Jun 5, 2012 : 7:41 p.m.

She makes absolutely the best baguettes in Ann Arbor, a city with some tough and distinguished baguette competition.

Rob T

Tue, Jun 5, 2012 : 7:20 p.m.

The best sandwich I've eaten in Ann Arbor I ate at Cafe Japon. Thanks for great food and memories!


Tue, Jun 5, 2012 : 7:18 p.m.

Very sad and a true loss! Sure hope Ms. Honma can relocate but, if not, many thanks for all the good eats! You will be sorely missed.

Mary Bilyeu

Tue, Jun 5, 2012 : 7:18 p.m.

I'm wondering if she'll still provide pastries for Morgan & York ...?

Tom Teague

Tue, Jun 5, 2012 : 7:18 p.m.

I really hope that Miyoko Honma will continue to make her wonderful pastries and breads for local restaurants and shops.

Jessica Webster

Tue, Jun 5, 2012 : 7:14 p.m.

Devastating news. She has the best pastries in Ann Arbor.

Stupid Hick

Tue, Jun 5, 2012 : 7:07 p.m.

Sorry to see it close, the cuisine was very memorable. A diverse, interesting menu.