Great Commoner, a new cafe from Brome and Cannelle, to open in Dearborn

Built in a historic downtown Dearborn building, the Great Commoner should have a soft open this month, and be fully up and running by summer

Melody Baetens
The Detroit News

Like the name implies, the Great Commoner restaurant and cafe is hoping to offer something for everyone. 

Preparing to open this month in Dearborn, the 6,200-square-foot restaurant will serve breakfast, lunch and dinner in the historic 125-year-old Wager Hotel building, part of the Wagner Place development. The menu is a collaboration between chef Matt Knio of popular Cannelle Patisserie, which has French-inspired cafes in Birmingham and downtown Detroit, and Brome Modern Eatery's executive chef Zane Makky.

The espresso bar at the Great Commoner, opening soon in Dearborn.

A second location of the Great Commoner is coming to Ann Arbor at Main and Washington later this summer. 

Sam Abbas, present of restaurant group Afor Concepts, says he wants the Great Commoner to be a daily stop for customers looking for locally roasted coffee drinks or fresh-pressed juices, a grab-and-go lunch, as well as a destination to sit down for a leisurely meal, espresso, cold brew or craft mocktail. Breakfast and brunch will have sweet and savory options, plus gourmet toasts. Dinner will be globally influenced; think pasta, Asian chopped salad or black bean burger. 

Abbas was impressed with what Knio was doing at his cafes, and says he sees the Great Commoner as sort of a "Cannelle 2.0." 

"We wanted to be a cafe that's kind of an everyday visit for people so they can come in and grab fresh menu items that use fresh ingredients like paninis, soups, salads, but at the same time indulge in some of Matt's amazing breads and his amazing pastries," says Abbas. 

"This is our goal, to create something for everybody to experience the simple and high quality products, pastries, sandwiches and even have a simple dish for lunch or dinner," added Knio, who calls the concept "one of a kind." 

The Great Commoner cafe and restaurant is a collaboration between the team behind Brome Modern Eatery and chef Matt Knio of Cannelle.

Abbas' company Afor Concepts also manages Brome Modern Eatery of Dearborn, which is known for their grass-fed, organic burgers and for catering to a variety of diets including gluten-free, vegan and halal. Abbas is also proud that Brome raised the "internal minimum wage" to $15 back in 2017.

The Great Commoner is a project four years in the works, says Abbas. They took great care to preserve the history of the space, which has an espresso bar, lounge seating and tables. 

"We took the building in its current condition and we transformed it, but kept a lot of the elements like the tin ceilings, the one-inch tiles that were very popular in the late 1800s, even the hardwood floors ... everything has a lot of history in the space itself," said Abbas. 

For now, because of COVID-19 capacity restrictions, they're only setting out about 70 of their 154 indoor seats, in addition to outdoor seating. Instead of Plexiglas dividers, they're using greenery to separate tables. 

A peek at some of the interior of the Great Commoner, opening soon in Dearborn.

"We have large fig leaves, palms, all kind of plant life that is sitting in between each table, to give people that separation, to give people that comfort, as well as a natural filtration system. We believe that the best thing for us to survive and for us to clean our air is our plant life," said Abbas. "We carry that over from Brome, from our other concepts and we think we'll be able to carry that forward. And it makes the space super cozy and warm." 

Abbas says they will have a soft opening in mid-May with breakfast and lunch service. They'll phase in dinner service later and plan to host a grand opening in the summer. 

The Great Commoner, 22001 Michigan in Dearborn, plans to be open seven days a week. Call (313) 403-1200 or visit

Twitter: @melodybaetens

The pour-over station behind the espresso bar at the Great Commoner.