Food

Story & Photos by Malissa Martin

Gumbo, corned beef and cabbage, pork chops, ribs, fried pickles, hush puppies – that’s just a few items from the menu at Southern Belles’ Bistro on Woodward Avenue in Ferndale.

Owner Tony Murry opened Southern Belles’ in May 2016. “The idea was to take a traditional soul food restaurant, and take Cracker Barrel, and kind of jam them into one. Hence, the name Southern Belles’ Bistro. The idea was to bring the best of country, Southern cooking, and soul food together in one,” Murry says.

Despite being open for less than a year, Southern Belles’ has already identified customers’ favorite dishes. Chicken and dumplings, catfish dinner, and chicken and waffles are the most popular dishes.

“People are very particular about their waffles. We searched around and use a different waffle mix now; and also wings, we use a different type flour to put them in. They look lighter because they don’t come out as brown. It tastes a lot better and gives it a lot more of a crunchy flavor.” Murry says.

Macaroni and cheese, greens, and dressing are very popular sides at the bistro. “Those are homemade from scratch and are really good.” Murry says. Southern Belles’ also offers acquired tastes food selections including chitterlings, ox tails, and a home-style turkey dinner with cornbread stuffing.

Southern Belles’ is steadily growing and business is starting to really pick up. However, Murry confesses that breakfast is a tough market to break into in Ferndale, with all the established breakfast eateries. The breakfast menu for Southern Belles’ offers a variety of options including: chicken and waffles, corned beef hash, savory chicken crepes, steak and eggs, French toast, omelettes, biscuits and gravy, fish and grits, salmon croquettes, pancakes, waffles, and much more.

When it comes to making great soul food, it all begins with the cooks. Murry says he worked closely with his cooks to create an appetizing menu. “As far as my prep cooks, I have a lot of older women who’ve cooked for years. One of them is a professional chef. They brought a lot of their recipes to the table,” Murry says. “Home-cooked dishes from scratch are Ferndale residents’ weakness when it comes to food,” Murry mused. “We get the same kinds of stories, ‘I haven’t had cooking like this since my grandmother passed away’,” he says.

What sets Southern Belles’ apart from other restaurants in the area is their commitment to making  home-cooked meals. Ninety percent of the food cooked at Southern Belles’ is made from scratch. Another distinction is that they don’t use pork in their dishes. “We don’t put pork products in any of our food. We sell bacon and ribs, but not as far as in our sides. Traditionally, a lot of people put pork in the greens, pork in the black-eyed peas or even in the gravy. Instead, the cooks use smoked turkey to add flavor to their dishes.”

So far, Murry says business has been good and he’s learning more and more about Ferndale residents. “The Ferndale consumer, they’re very loyal to their restaurant establishments. So we’re starting to pick up more business in Ferndale. A lot of the business we’re getting is transport business; like followers that go to the soul food establishments in the area like Beans and Cornbread or Motor City. Those kinds of customers came to us quickly. The Ferndale customers are starting to come in now. I’ve been noticing it for the last two, three months.”

Murry says that other Ferndale restaurant owners have been very friendly to him and even more since he’s opened. “It’s been a very friendly business atmosphere.” Murry plans to participate in Ferndale’s summer events and is looking forward to building with the Ferndale community.

Visit Southern Belles’ Bistro at 22939 Woodward Ave. in Ferndale.
For more information visit
www.southernbellesbistro.com
or call (248) 607-3788.

Story by Sarah E. Teller
Photo By Bernie LaFramboise

George and Cecilia Grego purchased Como’s restaurant, on the corner of Nine Mile Rd and Woodward, on April 1, 1961, and since then the restaurant has been a staple in the Ferndale community. The Italian hot spot is best known for its pizza. “We have the best pizza anywhere around,” says Como’s manager, George Grego Jr.

Como’s has a full bar and regular entertainment, combining dining and drinks, great for any sized party. It will offer a fun-filled lineup for the upcoming Blues Festival, January 27th through February 4th. “We’ll have entertainment each night,” George says.

There is a banquet area that can accommodate up to 100 people, as well as a private dining room seating up to 40. In warmer months, the outside patio seats several hundred people. “It’s a simple phone call,” George says of how quickly a reservation for a special event can be made. Como’s also hosts birthday parties, wedding and baby showers and other celebratory events.

Como’s reopened in October 2016, after having been cited for several violations related to cleanliness and the safety of its food, including citations for its kitchen area and ultimately closed by the health department the previous month. A lot of it had to do with “noncompliance of staff,” according to George. “We have a lot of new staff now and have remodeled.” Of the original 20-plus employees, only six have been retained. “No money had been put into the restaurant in nearly 20 years,” George adds.

“We’ve taken this opportunity to put the funds in that were needed.” Most of the building has been gutted and the space has been completely transformed, with all violations properly addressed and eradicated.

“We’ve made some fantastic changes and additions, and have thoroughly addressed and resolved any outstanding issues with the Oakland County Health Division,” George also indicated in a press release following the restaurant’s reopening. “All current staff are ServSafe certified.” ServSafe is a program that uses FDA Food Code guidelines to provide safety education and training to anyone employed at a restaurant who handles food.

George credits much of the positive change to Como’s new award winning chef, Pete Lech, a graduate of Schoolcraft College who served as an executive chef at Andiamo Italian Restaurant for a number of years. “Pete is just great,” he says. “He comes with a wealth of knowledge and experience.”

The restaurant has instituted some great specials to make sure members of the community stop by and check out the changes. “We have the best specials earlier in the week,” George says. On Monday’s Como’s has half-off all pizzas. On Tuesdays, pasta is buy-one, get-one free. And, on Wednesdays, patrons can enjoy a strip steak dinner for just $20.  “It’s a little-known fact that Como’s delivers, too,” George says. “And we even deliver beer and wine.

Como’s Restaurant is located at 22812 Woodward Avenue.
Staff can be reached at 248-548-5005.

Story by Jill Lorie Hurst

Sneakers. Some of your might remember it as Stan’s or Delta Lady. I know it as Sneakers Pub, a small, cozy-looking place I’ve always wanted to step into, or answer the “help wanted” signs that appear occasionally in the window. Finally, this assignment gave me an excuse to stop in. Debbie Griffin and her longtime manager KT Buckner sat down with me to talk about Sneakers and about some projects that are very dear to their heart.

Sneakers has been a part of Debbie’s life for a long time. Her parents bought the place 27 years ago. Debbie remembers the grassy medians on Woodward used to be parking space back then. “How we could use that parking space now!”

Sneakers was strictly a sports bar, sponsoring many teams. Their early customer base was made up of the loyal factory workers from the Woodward Heights area and guys in local construction. Their customers become family, they mention Charlie, who’s been coming since the ‘60s. “Two names ago!” the friends laugh.

Their family has expanded over the years to include hipsters, businessmen, moms looking for a place to gather. “You get everybody here” agreed Griffin and Buckner. They have a “very diverse clientele” and a close-knit staff. Owner and manager are both mothers of three. Debbie’s co-owner is her older brother Dave Cantrall. Dave, Debbie and KT are all Ferndale residents and have witnessed the explosion of change and growth over the years. I asked how they feel about the changes, and Debbie was quick to reply that the influx of new business is a help, not a hardship. KT admits that she got a little nervous when clubs started springing up around them, but Debbie reassured her that the new businesses would just bring more people to the area and to Sneakers.

Debbie credits her staff with a lot of the bar’s success. She says they’re busy “because of my girls” and firmly states that she couldn’t do it without them. The staff not only keeps Sneakers going, they participate in the bar’s fundraising benefits, cooking for a pot luck dinner that was held last Summer, a “Christmas in July” to gather supplies for the folks down at Cass Park.

How did they get involved with Cass Park? Debbie’s face lit up as she talked about her neighbor and friend Noel Briggs. She and Noel sit outside drinking tea and talking and the talk often turned to Cass Park. Debbie told me that Noel “makes about a hundred sandwiches” and heads down to Cass Park every other week to help out the area residents in need. Noel’s brother is involved too. He fixes up bicycles and donates them to neighborhood residents. A bike can be a lifesaver if it helps you get to work.

Debbie and the Sneakers family were anxious to get involved. There was the Christmas in July. And they are holding a coat drive, collecting men’s women’s and children’s coats during September and October. They do other giving as well. Last Fall, they learned about a struggling family in the area, and quietly decided to adopt them for Christmas. The mom didn’t want anything for herself, but gave them a list of needs and wants for her children. Debbie, KT and company provided gifts, a tree and decorations. This holiday season they’ve partnered with Children’s Hospital of Michigan. The Snowpile program allows parents of sick kids to choose gifts for their child without having to leave their bedside. Stop by Sneakers and pick an ornament with a gift idea, then bring the new, unwrapped gift to Sneakers before December 14th and they will deliver the donated gifts. They do their work quietly, but always welcome help.

Debbie insists “We’re a tiny puzzle piece in the grand scheme of things”. To me, they are representative of all that’s great about Ferndale. When you’re in the neighborhood, stop in at Sneakers Pub. Donate a coat if you can, or find out about the Christmas adopt a family project. Have a burger or some chili. Watch football on Sunday and enjoy some free half time food at Ferndale’s neighborhood bar.

Sneakers Pub is located at 22628 Woodward, just south of 9 Mile. You can find them on Facebook and you can also find more information about events at Cass Park on Facebook at “MCHR Sundays in the Park.”

Story & photo by Kevin Alan Lamb

Let us turn back the clock and relive a time where a meal meant to break bread with the artisan who cooked it and the farmer who harvested the grain, a time when we gathered in a celebration of community and progress in the form of shared creation and indulgence, fine whiskey, seasons passed, music and simple food, not made simply.

“The place is called Otus Supply. Otus is the genius of the great horned black owl, and the Supply really works with the industrial flavor, but also it plays from a marketing perspective: we’re supplying good friends, good cheer, good music, good food, good life,” Thom Bloom said with the type of smile that insists you believe him.

Located on 345 E. 9 Mile, Otus Supply opens in December and reminds us of the immense love and magnificence in the minutia with its intentional design, decor, and chef-inspired menu.
“It’s going to be a pretty full menu that’s seasonal, and it’s really inspired by the Great Lakes. Folks you know who have migrated over the last couple hundred years to the Great Lakes you know, whether that’s the Lebanese, the Polish, the German, the Dutch, the French. We drew influence from Chicago over to Cleveland, northern Michigan and Detroit. We call it simple food not prepared simply.

Since first learning of Ferndale’s newest spruce goose in July, I’ve had the pleasure of getting to know the men behind the mission of inspiring and connecting a community through good food, good music, and art.
“I’ve spent a lot of time in the concert business, I have other restaurants I’ve done. I was in the advertising business. Throughout all of these different careers you have a position or takes on different things. I took little bits and pieces of things that I really thought were important, and this is what Scott and I jokingly call our spruce goose.”

Before stepping foot in the newly-renovated, almost 11,000 square foot building, it becomes apparent that you are about to experience something special; something that you may not be able to articulate, but certainly feel and look forward to sharing it with others.

“We went out of our way to find as many recycled and architectural salvaged pieces to not only build the space, but to augment and decorate the space and kind of give homage to the last hundred years in Detroit history and living, prewar and postwar industrial revolution. In our design elements we kind of went back almost 300 years to the founding of Detroit. The French played a role in creating the kind of softer, feminine side of the design aspect.”

“We even went over to Paris and shopped, found pieces and windows and doors. Matter of fact, one of the old doors to a downtown Pairs building entered into a courtyard, a 10-foot door, you’ll see in our foyer. We also brought in three or four main artists who have played a major role in designing the space. One is Alex Morales from Smartmouth Designs out of Chicago, another is Daniel Ross from Detroit who does a very similar sculptural kind of woodworking perspective.”

When the doors open it will satisfy a number of needs in the Ferndale community, bringing in national and international acts to showcase a live room with over 30 taps, high ceilings, state-of-the-art acoustics, a sound booth made from reclaimed remnants of the train station, and music intent on making you move. There isn’t a music venue like it.

“Any music that happens here is going to be from the heart and soul, kind of roots Americana, New Orleans influence. It’s kind of, good old music you know? It’s really about having the musical side tap into the same kind of passion that we put into the food. We don’t want to make a mistake about the order here either, you know? It’s food first, and music a close partner alongside.”

Otus will host the official Greensky Bluegrass New Year’s afterjam with Greg Burns & Friends,  featuring Anders Beck, Mike Shimmin, Mike Lynch, Dave Menzo and special guests, The Kitchen Dwellers and The Whistle Stop Review. A free shuttle will be provided from Royal Oak Music Theatre to the Otus each night.

The building has been expanded with a new foyer and garage door space, along with a patio covered by a steel roof, with steel girders, and three large garage doors that ascend 18 feet in the air to be out of sight.

“It’s a real wide open outdoor space in warm weather scenarios, it’s open if it’s sunny in the winter, as much as possible when it’s warm, it’s a four-seasons scenario, on the Inside as well.”

By Jenn Goeddeke

Situated just North of 9 Mile on Woodward (22848 Woodward Ave), Howe’s Bayou is a popular bar/restaurant with an intimate, low-lit ‘artsy’ vibe which Michael Hennes runs with his partner, Patti Barker. Howe’s Bayou has been serving its patrons with authentic, Southern-style dishes since 1999. During that year, Hennes – who is now the proprietor – began working with Tom Brandel, a local restauranteur (of Tom’s Oysters, in Roy-al Oak). Hennes explained that Brandel was initially looking for management help but, after only a year, Hennes was able to purchase the establishment. Prior to purchasing Howe’s Bayou, Hennes had extensive experience in the food industry, having lived and worked for restaurants in Detroit for 25 years.

The Howe’s Bayou family-friendly menu offers something for everyone at an affordable price including steak, sandwiches, and seafood – along with traditional New Orleans favorites. My personal favorite is the Voodoo Chicken Po’ Boy: “strips of grilled chicken tossed in our savoury New Or-leans BBQ sauce – $7.95” (All Po’ Boys are served with southern slaw and home-baked potato chips).

For adult clientele, there is a wide offering of beverages: craft beers, as-sorted cocktails, and various wines. The wait-staff are always friendly, and able to offer good suggestions regarding food/beverage combinations. For those with a ‘sweet-tooth’ craving, I would strongly suggest trying the bread pudding with a bourbon sauce, or the peach cobbler with whipped cream (at $4.25 each). Tuesday dinner specials are available for just$10/plate, so new customers can find their favorite dish!

Hennes has a definite interest in ‘giving back’ to the community, and in serving others. At one point in his career, Hennes took a break to work with “Focus Hope,” where he managed the café and oversaw the confer-ence center full-time for 18 months. More recently, Howe’s Bayou donated food for over 150 guests at an ‘Awards for Youth’ event, through Peace Action of Michigan; Hennes has been contributing to this charity in a simi-lar way for five years.

I asked Hennes what stood out to him while working over the years at Howe’s Bayou. He responded, “The community here is the greatest experi-ence, my staff are awesome and we have a very loyal base of customers. It’s mostly just word-of-mouth advertising now. Everyone knows each oth-er from the surrounding businesses. We all take a vested interest in what’s going on. This neighborhood really takes pride in itself!” Hennes added that this community spirit has encouraged him to volunteer for different local causes/events including the DDA and FernCare.

Hennes and Barker certainly have a great way of making their customers feel welcome and wanting to come back for more of the Howe’s Bayou Southern-dining experience.

Howe’s Bayou can be reached at: (248) 691.7145, or by email: info@howesbayouferndale.net. Private and Business Catering is available. Street-side dining open in the Spring & Summer months. Visit the website for online ordering/menu information: www.howesbayouferndale.net

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Story by Jason Shubnell

If you keep a close eye on the Ferndale bar and restaurant scene, then you may have already heard of The Conserva.

The city’s latest eatery takes up the spot of Torino, the popular kitchen that closed in the summer of 2015. In its place is The Conserva, and the idea of a comfortable space with an extensive wine and beer menu. Conserva presents a combination of creatively-prepared meats and seafoods, vegetables, fresh made mustards, and aiolis, some of which are prepared using the Italian process called conserva.

So, when can you get a taste of this place? Right now!

The Conserva has been hosting soft opening weekends for a few weeks now, which are open to the public: Thursday through Saturday from 5:00 P.M. to Midnight. The kitchen closes at 10:00 P.M. each night.
“We plan to continue them until we open, but we suggest people check our Facebook page and sign up for ff16634_conserva_foodour mailing list to check to make sure that we are open before they come,” said Janna Coumoundouros.
That name might be familiar, as Janna runs Lilacpop Studio on Woodward. She and her husband, Chef Matthew Barbridge, came up with the idea of The Conserva.

“We didn’t have a restaurant but still wanted to cook good food and add in the art element, all while serving high end food in a non-stuffy environment,” the restaurant’s website reads. “We wanted people to sit together and enjoy the experience at one long table. That way they can interact while enjoying great food and drinks, because dining can be an experience rather than just a meal.”

Janna and Matthew were mum on a specific date for their grand opening, but hopefully it will be in the near future. Janna continued, “The soft openings have been an excellent way for Chef Matt to test out menu items until we officially open, and everyone that has attended has really enjoyed it.”

What will separate The Conserva from some of Ferndale’s other dining establishments?

“We are doing a different concept. Creative, medium plates with a kick-ass bar,” said Janna. “Our goal with the ff16634_conserva_barspace is to be eclectic with fine art but not pretentious. The food is sort of the same way. The food is creative yet accessible.”

The average plate price is between $7.50-$14. Drinks are about the same price range, and will feature craft cocktails from an up and coming talented bartender and a beautifully curated wine and beer list.

“You could bring a family, as long as the kids are adventurous eaters.”

Janna said they are using local art and artisans on everything, from the signage to the interior.

By Adam O’Connor

Craft beer pioneer Samuel Adams is partnering with local event producers Ultimate Fun Productions and The Social Connection to present the first annual OktoBEER & BBQ Festival in downtown Ferndale. Friday, October 14 through Sunday, October 16 will transform Vesper Street into a 50,000-square foot beer gardenff15614_people1 featuring tons of beer, traditional German food and mouthwatering BBQ. Live music, themed games and a Sam Adams’ “Raise the Stein”-sanctioned qualifying event round out the entertainment for the weekend.

OktoBEER & BBQ Festival will showcase an unparalleled selection of German cuisine, BBQ and food trucks – along with an extensive selection of beer, including brews from Samuel Adams, Coney Island Brewing Company, Traveler Beer Company and many more. Angry Orchard, Truly Spiked & Sparkling, Wild Turkey Bourbon and SKYY Vodka will also be providing cocktails.

More than a dozen food vendors will be present throughout the weekend, offering up a spread of culinary ff15614_foodgoodness that’ll please any crowd. Stonewood Smokehouse, Smoke Ring BBQ, Detroit BBQ, Smoke Shack and more will be selling their well-known and popular brands of barbecue.

With an impressive list of bands, OktoBEER & BBQ Festival presents a carefully cultivated entertainment lineup fit for all ages. The Wild Turkey Bourbon Stage will feature local favorites Killer Flamingos, Reefermen, Dan Tillery, Ryan Dillaha and more – plus traditional German music provided by Immigrant Sons.

“In Ferndale, we take our fun seriously,” says Mayor David Coulter. “We enjoy rolling out the welcome mat for residents and visitors alike, and showing off our special community.”

OktoBEER & BBQ Festival will be jam-packed with fun activities and entertainment that are sure to please and delight. Guests have the opportunity to participate in a variety of themed contests and games including ff15614_people2Sam Adams’ “Raise the Stein”-sanctioned qualifying event for the National Championship. The Sam Adams Stein Hoisting competition is searching coast-to-coast for two national champions to send to the 2017 Oktoberfest celebration in Munich, Germany. Those interested in participating in this qualifying event are encouraged to sign up via the website (oktobeerfestival.com).

Additional games and activities at OktoBEER & BBQ Festival include the Barrel Roll, Stein Race, Brat Toss, Schwartze Loch (us Michiganders know it as “Corn Hole”) and Brat Eating Contest. These games are open to all OktoBEERfest guests and will be free to play!

The event also benefits CARE House of Oakland County, the first organization in Oakland County proactively addressing the issues of child abuse and neglect. Care House implements that mission-critical goal through programs and services which mirror its core belief of “It shouldn’t hurt to be a child!” Visit www.carehouse.org for more information on how to get involved.

OktoBEER & BBQ Festival takes place in downtown Ferndale on Vester Street from:
5:00–11:00 P.M. on Friday; Noon–11:00 P.M. on Saturday; Noon–8:00 P.M. on Sunday

Entry is free all weekend and open to all ages. More information about the festival is available at: www.oktobeerfestival.com

 

Story by Andrea Grimaldi
Photography by brother Willy Aschmetat

At some point this summer, you may have seen Bernie Laframboise’s garden. It would have been hard to miss, and impossible to forget. His corner lot was lined with giant corn plants, with a dense forest of vegetable plants hiding behind them. Bernie has over 30 tomato plants in 15 different varieties, with some seeds coming from as far as China and Russia. The tomato plants are staked and trained to grow upwards, all reaching over six-feet-tall. The uglier the tomato, the more delicious it is, and his heirlooms are a point of pride. A handful of tomatoes have weighed up to two pounds.

In addition to the impressive quantity of quality corn and tomatoes, Bernie grows squash, zucchini, rhubarb, ff15682_blg_2pumpkins, green onions, jalapenos, pimentos, bell peppers, asparagus, grape leaves, okra, potatoes, beets, pole beans, carrots, sweet potatoes, lettuce, chilies, kale, and cucumbers, just to name a few. He has a handful of fruit trees, including pears and apples, as well as melon and berry plants throughout his garden. There is also a wide variety of spices and herbs. Bernie places plants strategically,like encouraging companion growing by mixing basil plants in between his tomatoes. The entire yard is also lined in beautiful flowers and hanging baskets that attract bees and butterflies.

Bernie offers gardening tips, such as using 100 per cent organic materials in your garden for a higher quality produce. Cow manure and fish emulsion help to enrich soil. Pruning leaves off of tomato plants help direct ff15682_blg_3the growing energy to the tomatoes themselves. Collecting rain water is very useful – Bernie’s 250-gallon tank helped him make it through the heat spell this summer.

Above all, Bernie says you need dedication. “Be prepared to be married to the garden,” he explains.Bernie works full-time as a developmental mechanic. He also provides Ferndale Friends with some of the beautiful photography you see in each issue.  His garden is his third job. He uses his vacation time to plant and prepare every spring, using PVC hoops and plastic sheeting to make greenhouses on his raised beds. Every night after work as well as throughout the weekends, Bernie can be found in his garden, digging, weeding, and picking.

The reward certainly outweighs the amount of work. Not only does Bernie have more produce than he can eat, he has a backyard oasis. The height and density of his garden makes for the perfect amount of privacy. He has a small cabana in the midst of the gardens, perfect for him and his friends and his dogs to relax. Although Bernie has only lived in his house for three years, his efforts look like they have taken a lifetime.

The importance of growing natural healthy food is a message Bernie wants to share with the world. Watching your efforts grow from seed to food is a process that not many people get to partake in, but it is a very important one. Canning and preserving food is how people have made it through difficult times, and is an important part of surviving. In addition to the health benefits that fresh produce offers the body, there is a therapeutic aspect to gardening. “It is good for the mind to keep the body busy,” Bernie explains. “You forget the world exists when you’re making your own world in the garden.” It doesn’t take a lot of land to grow your own food, just a lot of love and dedication.

Story and photos by Jennifer Goeddeke

Peter Krasnici, proprietor of Hambo Coney Island, would first and foremost describe himself as a family man, ff15646_hambo_extwith a strong business sense. Krasnici is young, energetic, and enthusiastic about life, and it certainly shows. He divides his time between running (since 1995) this busy, family-owned business, and his happy marriage of nine years and counting. With three young children to raise (ages two, three and eight), Krasnici is constantly on the go: “…but my personal life with my family makes everything worth it!”

Krasnici has worked his whole career at the one location. “I have been coming here since I was 12 years old!” he explained. “I like what I do, and now have been solo here for two and a half years. My brother Joseph left to run the House of Pancakes in Clinton Township.”

Krasnici’s style is very personal and informal. “I try not to be a harsh boss,” he added, with a big smile. He describes Hambo as being on the less expensive end of the dining spectrum, but with an emphasis on quality and hygiene: “I hate dirtiness with a passion!”

Getting to know his customers is a priority for Krasnici, and he also keeps his radar open to what the younger, “trendier” crowd is leaning towards for breakfast and lunch (currently crepes have been added to the menu, due to popular demand).

The full Hambo menu — which Krasnici completely designed himself — is extensive and includes many new items. It includes various starters;soup/chili; salads; skillets/scramblers; kids menu, plus all the traditional ff15646_hambo_3Coney Island fare. Different specials are also available daily.

Krasnici mentioned that renovations for Hambo are coming very soon; the last improvements were in 1999 and, although the diner looks great to me, he sees the potential for some fresh paint!

His wife Diana often visits with his children; sometimes his eight-year-old daughter Viktoria helps to set up tables. He fondly recalls a time where she recently wrote an order by herself! Krasnici is looking forward to his wife joining him in the running of Hambo once his children are older. At that point, he expects to extend his hours into the evening (currently, Hambo is open until 4pm Monday through Saturday, and until 3pm on Sundays.)

Will his children follow in his footsteps? Krasnici explained, “I chose ff15646_hambo_in_2the restaurant industry, and I want them to choose whatever path they want, too. If they want to go to college, that’s fine with me!”

Peter would like you to know that they have “good food and good prices,” and it’s a great place to find good people too.

Hambo Coney Island is located at 22900 Woodward Ave, north of 9 Mile Road at Vester, on the east side of the street.

Hambo is open 7 days a week: 8:00 am-4:00 pm Mondays-Saturdays; 8:00 am-3:00 pm, Sundays. They can be reached at: 248.414.9400 or check out a menu via their web site: www.hamboconeyisland.com. MC and Visa accepted. Wednesdays are Coney Days: 99 cent Coneys all day- no limit, no coupon! Breakfast served all day; Party Hosting & Catering Service available.

Story by David Stone
Photos by Ed Abeska

One of the best ways to experience the magical skills of a truly great chef is to sample their appetizers. So it is exciting to see that the center of William Quasarano’s (A.K.A. “Chef Quas”) menu at the Twisted Tavern are indeed his amazing apps. Rest assured, they do have an incredible menu of amazing tacos, delicious burgers and sandwiches and a unique variety of flatbreads, too.

We will return to this wonderful menu later. But, first, let’s meet the man behind the menu; Chef Quas.He was born in Detroit and says he’s been “all over the East Side.” He graduated from Grosse Pointe North after ff14674_tt_rd_barstarting at St. Joan of Arc. He has lived in Las Vegas, Chicago, and up North. “I’ve kind of been all over,” he says.

When describing his introduction to the culinary field, he said, “I had my ninth birthday in my dad’s first bar, Hollywood Nights.” He later studied culinary arts under Chef Schneider at Macomb Community College.

After working at many other restaurants, Chef Quas joined Mark McConnell who, at the time, owned Boogie Fever in Ferndale. They worked together so well that the two decided to continue working together when Mark decided to refurbish the site, creating the Twisted Tavern and Red Door Nightclub.

At that time, they decided to focus on the apps. Quas describes Twisted Tavern as a place that does “family-style but with apps.” The menu clarifies this, saying that they come in “mine or ours” sizes. The menu further defines the two app sizes as “to share or not to share.” As Chef Quas put it, “It’s not like having to dish out $35 for an entree.”

McConnell has been a local entrepreneur since 1999. When Boogie Fever began to “show its wear,” Mark and co-owner Rob decided it was time to reinvest and renovate. They decided to open a restaurant in front and a nightclub in back, and that was how Twisted Tavern and Red Door were born.

Mark mentioned that he received “a ton of compliments on the decor,” and points out, “we’re not a dive but ff14674_tt_rd_interiorour menu is not priced like an expensive restaurant…you get a nice environment but you’re not paying the exorbitant price for it.”

When describing the business atmosphere in Ferndale, Mark likes to point to such things as our “close- knit business community.” He mentioned how the business community will “come together for city-oriented events.” And, he feels that the “city is organized to help the businesses.”

Now, back to the food.

As mentioned earlier, they serve many interesting salads and flat breads. They also have a wide variety of “grande twisted tacos.” Two interesting examples are the Asian-soy braised short-rib beef, lettuce, toasted sesame, and veggie-roasted seasoned veggies, lettuce, guac, pico de gallo. They have many interesting sandwiches too.

But the highlight of the menu are the appetizers; they have 13! For me, there were three standouts: First, the shark bites. The chef’s signature dish is Mako shark, lightly blackened and seared, and served with a cusabi sauce. Lollipop Kale, a hybrid of kale and brussel sprouts, is wonderful. It is then flash-fried and a “balsamic drizzle” is added. Instead of chicken wings, they serve fried duck legs in a mandarin glaze.

The Twisted Tavern is a wonderful place for a large group to have a very good meal, in beautiful surroundings, and at a reasonable price. The Red Door is a gorgeous nightclub where you can dance the night away. On Fridays, they play top 40s and current dance music. On Saturdays, they play dance music from the ‘80s, ‘90s and today.

Both Twisted Tavern and Red Door are located at 22901 Woodward.
Twisted Tavern, (248) 545-6750; thetwistedtavern.com
Red Door, (248) 541-1600; reddoornightclub.com

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