Cafe Sous Terre is bringing a French-style coffee and cocktail bar to Detroit

Cafe Sous Terre is bringing a French-style coffee and cocktail bar to Detroit

click to enlarge

Randiah Camille Green

Cafe Sous Terre will serve coffee, French wine, cocktails, and mocktails in Midtown.

A stairwell to the basement of a 19th-century mansion in Detroit’s Midtown leads to a new coffee shop, Cafe Sous Terre.

The European-style cafe is located at 445 W. Forest Ave., and the name is Pronounced “sue-tear” (like “I’m about to tear this place up,” not like a “teardrop”). Soft jazz music plays quietly in the space full of paired-down art deco lighting and booths with a standing bar in the corner.

“Café sous terre” means “coffee underground” in French, according to owner Reimer Priester.

The cafe will operate as a coffee shop with espresso, lattes, tea, and sparkling water on tap with electrical outlets underneath every seat for remote workers and students during the day. At night, it will shift into a bar serving French wine, cocktails, and mocktails with housemade syrup like a chai-inspired blend with pink peppercorns, nutmeg, ginger, and cloves.

The coffee is provided by Detroit-based Coffeehaus, and small bites like quiches, tarts, and croque monsieur come from Birmingham’s The French Lady. Other cafe food like bagels from New York Bagels, salads, and soups will be on offer with some vegan and vegetarian options.

Cafe Sous Terre General Manager Joel Jones, who most recently created the coffee menu at Midtown Italian-inspired restaurant Made Nice and was a bartender there, says cocktails will be priced around $9.50 to $12.50 to make them affordable for students at nearby Wayne State University.

Owner Reimer Priester also says he wanted to create an unpretentious place for students and residents to be able to grab a cup of coffee or glass of wine. The French jazz theme is inspired by Priester’s grandfather who was a jazz drummer. Priester proudly shows us a photo of his grandfather playing with Dizzy Gillespie that’ll soon hang in the cafe.

click to enlarge The French-style basement-level cafe opens on July 27. - Randiah Camille Green

Randiah Camille Green

The French-style basement-level cafe opens on July 27.

“Everything in this area is so expensive now, especially if you want to get a cocktail,” Jones says. “We wanted to have this place so somebody who’s working a part-time job as a college student can actually come here, enjoy a nice drink, have more than one, and not feel bad. It’ll also be a great date night spot or place to meet and talk with friends.”

“This is not going to be a party spot. It’s not a club, and the music won’t be too loud,” Priester adds. “We just want to establish ourselves as serving great coffee and great cocktails.”

Both tell Metro Times they also wanted to create a fair workplace environment and workers are offered a starting wage of $17 plus tips.

The space was formerly occupied by Detroit Bridal House, which moved out in 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Cafe Sous Terre will have a soft opening on Thursday, July 27. Everything on the menu will be 20% off until the cafe’s grand opening party on Aug. 2.

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