There has been a surge of business growth in downtown Ferndale over the past year. And One-Eyed Betty’s - a new craft beer bar - is another new concept to add to your “fast new favorites” list.
Located in the space that was once home to Cantina Diablo’s - a Tex-Mex joint-cum-sports bar that never really gelled with the Ferndale crowd - Betty’s feels like the ultimate hometown bar for the slightly more sophisticated Ferndale clientele.
“I’ve always loved craft beer and always thought a craft beer bar would do really well in Ferndale,” says Beth Hussey, a partner with restauranteur Brian Kramer, who also owns Rosie O’Grady’s in Ferndale and the Cantina Diablo location in Royal Oak.
Hussey pitched the idea to Kramer after business at the Ferndale location of Cantina Diablo’s began to slow. Soon after, work began to transform the space into a comfortable neighborhood pub.
The interior design is all Hussey’s. She wanted the space to have a, “divey, edgy, neighborhood bar kind of feel,” so the space is stripped down to the bar basics of what makes a good beer bar: wooden floors, long communal tables (reminiscent of a German biergarten – which is intentional, since they do not have an outdoor patio), comfortable booths, exposed ductwork giving it that bit of industrial chic appeal, and chalkboards announcing the specials and newest beers on tap.
Hussey connected with local artists and designers to work with reclaimed pieces, some of which were once a part of the “Relics” exhibit at the Detroit Institute of Arts. There’s even an old “Exit” sign that once lived on I-75 that hangs by the door and work is being done to complete an elaborate and customer-interactive bottle cap mural.
For entertainment, there is a small stage for live music and they feature a variety of genres. And be sure to check out the collection of fully functioning vintage pinball machines. “It fits our ‘dive bar’ appeal. There’s nowhere else you can go that has these,” says Hussey.
The total turnaround time from the Diablo’s-to-Betty’s was only about a month and a half, but the space is entirely reborn. The end result feels like an arts-minded urban beer hall that fits in so well with Ferndale’s forward-thinking creative community, that it feels like it has always been there (and, more importantly, it’s already hard to imagine a Ferndale without it).
Chef Emmele Herrold and Hussey have created a menu of beer-themed and beer-friendly food. “The food concept is simple,” Hussey says. “We just wanted a menu that’s all food that is either cooked with beer, or a classic pairing with beer, or food that fits the beer drinkers’ demographic,” she pauses, then asks rhetorically: “Would Homer Simpson like it?”
There is a huge emphasis on oysters (oysters and stout are a classic pairing), which Hussey is very proud of. They get oysters fresh six days a week. During their 4-6 p.m. happy hour, the “One-Eyed Oysters” are $1 each by the dozen or half-dozen, “half of what other places charge which helps keep them moving and keep them the freshest possible.” They use Naked Cowboy East Coast oysters, and in addition to serving them on the shell they also serve them baked (Oysters Beatrice, $7), broiled (Oyster Roast, $12) and fried (Po’Boy, $10).
Other staple beer pairings include mussels (great with Belgian beer), a rotating selection of cheese and charcuterie boards (most appropriate with German beer), and fire-roasted wings (great with any beer), plus they also make one of the best Beer Cheese Soups (“au gratin” style, $3/5) you’ll find in metro Detroit.
“Bacon with a Side of Bacon” ($8) is already a huge fan favorite, comprised of braised pork belly, applewood smoked bacon strips, and a fried poached egg. They also have “Some Sorta Special” nightly, which lately has been a lot of seafood and cockles (clams) and crispy brussel sprouts. “There’s always something different and interesting to check out.”
On Saturdays and Sundays they serve one of Ferndale’s most infamous breakfasts – a giant grilled homemade Cinnamon Roll French Toast with gooey caramel sauce ($8). They also serve a “German Breakfast” ($9), an assortment of meats and cheeses served with a huge piece of baguette and whole grain mustard.
Save room for dessert: their Homemade Donuts ($5) are served fresh and piping hot right out of the fryer with chocolate and raspberry dipping sauces, and the Chocolate-Covered Raspberry Float ($5) is definitely an adult’s dessert, served with Atwater Brewery’s Vanilla Java Porter and Framboise ice cream.
Get the full dish on One-Eyed Betty's
This is a beer lover’s beer bar. They have 44 handles and up to three hand pulls at a time. Can’t decide? Build your own flight, 3 for $7 or 6 for $14. Right now they’ve got about 100 additional beers by the bottle and are slowly building their inventory. It’s all American and European craft beer, though they do have PBR on tap and a selection of “yellow fizzy beers” like Black Label and High Life. “[For macro beers] we stuck to semi-local or retro-fabulous,” Hussey explains. “There’s no Bud Light or Miller Light or Coors Light and we’ll stay true to that forever.”
Instead the beer list is a best-of of Michigan and American craft beers and interesting imports. There are a lot of seasonal brews on the list, as well as special releases like the highly sought-after Kentucky Breakfast Stout from Founders Brewing Company in Grand Rapids (named the number 2 beer of 2011 by Wine Enthusiast). Many of the Belgian, Belgian-style and American strong beers tend to have double to triple the alcohol content of an average beer.
Another good friend of beer is whiskey. One-Eyed Betty’s has over 56 whiskeys and the list is still growing. “We’re really putting a lot of focus on whiskey,” Hussey says. “Beer and whiskey go really well together, and whiskey is big right now.” They’ve got bourbon, single malt scotch, Irish whiskey, American whisky (note the difference in spelling; Irish whiskey is with an “e”), and soon they’ll even have a Japanese whisky called Suntory Yamazaki.
On weekends, enjoy your brunch with tableside Bloody Marys ($5). “I’m a Bloody Mary connoisseur,” Hussey says. “I’ve always like the idea of a Bloody Mary bar but they creep me out and I’ve never enjoyed it or seen it done right.” So instead, they bring the Bloody Mary bar right to your table! If that’s not your thing, they also have bottomless mimosas for $12 and BEERmosas made with Wittekerke and orange juice.
Hussey works hard at making sure her staff is knowledgeable about the different styles of beer and proper pouring, and is also working on a beer school for her employees. “We’re focused on educating people,” she says, “but we don’t want to be intimidating [or snobby]. The staff will take people by the hand [and guide them through the beer list]. We also have a lot of great ‘segway’ beers … baby steps!”
Even if you’re not a self-identified beer nerd, this is still a totally comfortable and friendly neighborhood bar that also happens to have an amazing beer list. Really this is a place for everyone where everyone is made to feel welcome. Service is consistently casual and unobtrusive; you’ll get as much or as little assistance as you want, and servers are always friendly and attentive.
Because they’re going through so much beer, the beer list is changing faster than they can print it. Be patient when things listed on the menu have run out. They’ve got a lot of fun things planned for the future, including beer to go, a beer club, a women’s beer group, beer dinners (Kuhnhenn Brewing Company will be their first), and an app that will allow you to keep track of the beers you’ve tried with tasting notes and prizes at certain benchmarks. Happy hour is every day from 4-6 p.m., though drink specials change monthly.
They were popular from the minute they opened their doors and that popularity is only growing. “I knew it would do well but I did not know it was going to do this well,” Hussey says. Basically, everyone loves the place, and with great bar food, a fantastic beer selection, friendly people and a relaxed beer-drinkin’ environment … well, that’s exactly WHY everyone loves the place!