Food Fight! The Great Commoner in Downtown A2 is Worth a Visit for the Whole Family

“The Great Commoner,” also known as “TGC” opened in downtown Ann Arbor in November 2021, and is gaining popularity as word of mouth spreads. It is located at 110 East Washington Street and its name evokes a kind of egalitarian feel, which one gets a sense of when hanging out there. 

We visited twice, and both times it was packed with all kinds of people: moms taking breaks, college students, and families. We also interviewed Gabriela Granados, the café manager with TGC for a year, opening both Dearborn and Ann Arbor locations. Granados gave us further background and details about this fun place with a distinctly European flair.

Perhaps what will delight Ann Arbor Family readers most, Granados acknowledged that the establishment caters to children, families, as well as everyone else.

Kids are sure to love the gorgeous pastry options, reminiscent of European bakeries. Photo by Donna Marie Iadipaolo.

“We are most definitely kid and family-friendly,” Granados stated. “At our café, kids love to view our pastry cases filled with eye-catching delights. Macarons and eclairs are among the most kid-friendly and kid-approved desserts. While we do not have a kids’ menu, kids do not have a problem selecting from our main menu which is filled with a variety of breakfast and lunch sandwiches. We serve simple and fresh products that cater to a variety of taste buds.”

Granados specified that the café opened November 19th, right before the holidays and the proprietors chose Ann Arbor because of its original attributes.

“Ann Arbor is a beautiful town with an amazing sense of community,” described Granados. “There is no other place that offers artisanal French pastries combined with an elevated café menu, so we saw an opportunity to fill that gap.”

Beautiful coffee options with various dairy options are served; photo by Donna Marie Iadipaolo.

The proprietors have other locations in Detroit, Dearborn, and Birmingham, also known as Cannelle and The Great Commoner. Granados explained the differences.

“Cannelle and The Great Commoner, or TGC for short, are two separate entities,” Granados described. “Here in Ann Arbor, we are TGC and we feature Cannelle products. In fact, we carry almost all the same pastries, croissants, and baked goods that are found at the other Cannelle locations, in addition to new and elevated food options.”

Almost everything under the sun is available to enjoy, any time of the day.

“We offer breakfast, lunch, and dinner all day,” said Granados. “We serve a variety of breakfast and lunch sandwiches, toasts, salads, and soup to satisfy any craving. An egg and cheese croissant sandwich garnished with fresh chives, a tomato mozzarella panini with zaatar pesto and balsamic vinaigrette, and a spin on the avocado toast featuring watercress and chili oil are among the high-quality, fresh, and delicious food options one can find at TGC any time of day.”

The decor is old world meets contemporary, photo by Donna Marie Iadipaolo.

We tried their salad, Tuna Confit Baguette, Jambon Gruyere Baguette, and homemade soup.  All the dishes tasted fresh, playful, and like home with fresh ingredients. The salad was large and chock-full of veggies. The French baguettes tasted like they just came out of the oven, and the soup was not overly salted and had a thick broth. We also had a latte and cappuccino. The frothing on each was perfect. Various milk options are available like oat milk and almond milk. They also make their own syrups with amazing flavors like lavender and pistachio. 

The space has a nod to both Old Word Europe and a contemporary feel as well. Black and white photos of yesteryear grace the walls. Booths, separate tables, and a bar with stools facing the window are all elegantly placed. The mathematical and artistic lighting above is complete with spheres, circles, and perspective lines. Refreshing iced water is freely available sometimes accompanied with herbs, sometimes veggies, and fruit. 

“We can accommodate 30-35 guests at our café,” Granados explained. “Our Dearborn location, however, is a full-service restaurant with a larger dining room, and can accommodate up to 77 guests.”

According to Granados, Chef Matt Knio brings the French Pastry & Baking expertise to the table. After having trained in Paris, France under Master Pastry Chef Claude Baraque and at the Academie de Versailles, Chef Matt came to the United States to share his knowledge and passion for the art of French Pastry. He is widely known for his two Cannelle locations, Cannelle Patisserie in Birmingham and Cannelle by Matt Knio in Detroit. Chef Zane Makky brings knowledge and expertise gained from a variety of  experiences. 

Having a love for food and cooking from a young age, Chef Zane has worked in several top restaurants in Detroit under some of the finest chefs. He successfully opened multiple restaurants, including Brome Modern Eatery (BME) Dearborn, BME Detroit, and The Great Commoner. 

They have also used the term “boutique break cafe” to describe themselves.

The baguettes taste like they just came out of the oven. Photo by Donna Marie Iadipaolo.

“Boutique Break Café is meant to allow guests to take a break from their everyday life,” Granados divulged.  “Guests can decide how to experience TGC, whether it be through a grab n’ go delivery, or dining in and enjoying a plethora of options. We strive to offer an elevated café experience that brings unique and carefully crafted food and drink options. Additionally, we’ve aimed to create a space that is intentional, comfortable, and aesthetically pleasing for our guests – whether they desire to spend a quiet afternoon with a coffee and pastry, or a fun brunch experience with some friends.”

And they want you to know they can accommodate various requests.

“We are grateful to be here and to have found a supportive community,” she explained.  “As a gentle reminder, we are always happy to accept orders in-person, online, or over the phone. Our café associates are ready to assist you, from cake pre-orders to call-ahead food orders to fundraising efforts.”

The term “The Great Commoner” has been used with certain popular leaders throughout history, such as Abraham Lincoln, Winston Churchill, and William Jennings Bryan.

The Great Commoner 110 E. Washington St. Ann Arbor 734-519-1300