Culture

By Sara Teller

DIVINE FAVOR MINISTRIES BEGAN IN 2006 and relocated from Roseville in 2012 to Hazel Park. They currently offer services at 22223 Rhodes Ave.

“We are a small but mighty group of believers who honor God and love people,” explained Ann Marie Reed. “We held services for two years in what is now Joebar and was then a dance studio. In October 2014 we were able to purchase the former Hazel Park Masonic Temple and transform it into Divine Favor Ministries. Our nondenominational worship opportunities are held Sunday mornings at 10:00 A.M. and Bible Study is Wednesday evenings at 7 P.M.”

The congregation is led by Ann Marie Reed’s husband of 28 years, Pastor Kenneth D. Reed, Sr. The group also offers opportunities to serve the community through various programs organized throughout the year, and there are opportunities for members to connect outside of service through involvement in small groups. The women’s ministry, Women W.I.N., for example, offers a chance for women 18 and over to gather together once a month and discuss topics of interest, and WE FEED is a program that has grown substantially since its inception.

“One of our largest ongoing projects is our WE FEED program,” Reed said. “Not only do we distribute food to families from Hazel Park and surrounding areas, we also have several events throughout the year where we distribute new clothes, school supplies, household and personal care items, and even new toys for Christmas at our annual Breakfast with Santa.”

WE FEED distributes the last Saturday of each month at 10:00 A.M. “We ask that our intake paperwork is completed and recipients bring valid ID,” Reed explained. “Another project we are working on is Divine Connections Life Solutions. We are hoping to be able to provide homes, childcare, and other wraparound services to single parents in need.”

TEENY TINY TERRITORY TAKEOVER WAS A FUNDRAISER held specifically for Divine Connections Life Solutions, a non-profit extension of Divine Favor Ministries Church that offers programs designed to help single moms with their bills, housing assistance, referrals, and childcare in Southeast Michigan. Reed came up with the idea of the Teeny Tiny Territory Takeover, which was based on the concept of tiny homes. During the event, “awesome artists from the Hazel Park Arts Council transformed birdhouses into amazing works of art,” she said, adding, “They were definitely the highlight but we had other items available for auction, too. We also had take-home kits that you can decorate yourself.”

Residents were able to support the endeavor by donating online via an auction as well as attending the event in person at the church. Linda Yono from the Arts Council made four birdhouses and Nina Cairo, also from the Arts Council, made one. Yono, who has been a member of the Arts Council for almost four years, said, “I have been an artist all my life.” She added, “Hopefully, the Arts Council can help do this again.”

Reed said, “They just did a phenomenal job. The birdhouses were completely transformed. They were all themed – one was a peacock; one was a Candyland theme. I had no idea they were going to come back the way they did! I would say we raised around a thousand dollars.”

The mission of Divine Connections Life Solutions is “to facilitate the movement of homeless families toward self-sufficiency by providing shelter and other services that will increase the interpersonal, parenting and household skills.” Reed acts as the organization’s Executive Director and is a perfect fit for the position as a former childcare center owner/operator with over 20 years of housing management experience and ten years in the nonprofit sector. Monthly women’s events held at Divine Connections Life Solutions include counseling, spiritual guidance, self-esteem building, and meetings centered around other personal care topics.

REED ALSO WORKS AS AN AGENCY RELATIONS COORDINATOR FOR GLEANERS COMMUNITY FOOD BANK, where she is able to help hundreds of other churches and non-profits start, build, and maintain food pantries throughout Southeast Michigan. She is a graduate of Grace Bible College (Magna Cum Laude). A wife and mother, she also manages to squeeze in some time for a personal passion of hers – crafting.

“I love crafting! Machine embroidery, candle making, and quilling are my current favorites, but I’ve been known to crochet, knit, and sew just about anything. I would like to start a monthly crafting class at the church, Crafted in His Image, where we would highlight a different craft each month,” she said.

Anyone interested in the WE FEED program or Crafted in His Image (either as a participant or instructor) can contact Ann Marie at ladyamreed@yahoo.com.

By Ingrid Sjostrand

HAZEL PARK IS A GREAT PLACE TO START A BUSINESS, and the dozens of decades-old companies continuing to succeed in the city can attest to that. The Hazel Park Food Center, celebrating 57 years of business in 2019 and located at 24625 John R Rd., is no exception.

Owner David Antiwan has watched the Food Center thrive since childhood. His father opened the store in 1962, and Antiwan worked there throughout his youth and continues to maintain the family business.

“We are a convenient small grocer in Hazel Park with fresh produce and fresh meat cut daily,” he says. “We have meat bundle deals and an everyday special of buy-one, get-onefree on NY strips and boneless ribeye steaks.”

Antiwan stresses that the fresh cuts every day are one of the things that have brought the store success and kept regulars coming back. He says they carry the basics and doesn’t see the need for excess, like seven different types of ketchup for example. It’s a small store – with just three employees – and they aren’t trying to compete with bigger chains, just hoping to meet Hazel Park’s needs.

“I LOVED GROWING UP, WORKING AND LIVING IN THE CITY OF HAZEL PARK. It’s such a cool little town surrounded by all the big cities,” he says. “I have always been proud of my city and always felt like we – the residents of Hazel Park – were the underdogs with a lot of fight in us.”

Antiwan’s been a part of the struggles of economic uncertainty in the city – and several personal hardships – over the years. Having lost both his parents and his three-year-old daughter to cancer, as well as being a cancer survivor himself, has just strengthened his adoration for the city and he feels a lot of the City of Hazel Park are like close members of his family.

“We’ve survived some hard times and I feel this cool little city of mine is really coming around,” he says. “My father was in this town for almost 50 years and I hope to pass the family legacy down to my sons and daughter so we can make it to 100 years.”

Antiwan hopes that the revival the city is experiencing will continue to strengthen the community and its businesses.

By Sara E. Teller

FRANK ANTHONY POLITO HAS HAD A PEN IN HIS HAND for as long as he can remember. “I’ve always been a writer,” he said. “I was the kid in fourth grade who wrote ten pages when he was told to write five.”

He is also a Hazel Park native, and there are many references to local hot spots in his writing. He said, “My novels are loosely based on my life, growing up gay in Hazel Park during the 1980s. They are all fiction, but there are lots of local references, like Country Boy restaurant, that make them fun to read for people who lived in Hazel Park during that particular time period.”

Polito said of his published novels, “Writing them was like taking a trip down memory lane, getting to revisit a time that was difficult. Being a gay kid in 1980s Hazel Park wasn’t easy. Even though there were a lot of us, we just didn’t know it at the time…the support I received when they were published, from old friends and teachers who came to my book signings, made me finally feel popular after so many years of feeling quite the opposite.”

His favorite novelist is Michael Chabon, and Polito’s third novel, The Spirit of Detroit, was inspired by his book, The Mysteries of Pittsburgh. He also has a favorite screenwriter – the legendary filmmaker John Hughes.

“I’ve been called ‘the gay John Hughes,’” Polito said fondly, adding, “which is an honor since he’s my favorite screenwriter.”

An award-winning author himself, Polito also has a passion for the stage. He received a Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) degree in Theatre from Wayne State in 1993, where he got involved in many productions and even met his life partner, Craig Bentley.

At 24, Polito moved to New York City to pursue a career in acting.

“When that didn’t work out as I’d hoped, I started writing,” he said. “In 2001, I wrote my first play John R, which was later adapted into my first novel Band Fags!. It was published in 2008. John R tells the story of two gay teenage boys living in Hazel Park in the mid-1980s and what happens when one of them decides he’s ready to be ‘out and proud’ while the other is too ashamed to step out of the closet. The play is based on my relationship with my best friend of almost 37 years. It received its Detroit premiere in 2015 by Slipstream Theatre Initiative of Ferndale at its former home in Hazel Park. The play has also been produced in New York City, San Francisco, and in Omaha, Nebraska.”

FOLLOWING HIS BFA IN THEATRE, IN 2006 Polito also received a Master of Fine Arts degree in Dramatic Writing from Carnegie Mellon.

“While there, I wrote two plays. The first is called Ferndale: 1955 about a gay World War II veteran who returns home from the war, marries a young widow, and tries to live a ‘normal’ life. My second play is called Another Day on Willow St, and tells the stories of two couples – one gay, one straight – living in New York City in the weeks leading up to 9/11. The original production at Carnegie Mellon featured Anthony Carrigan, now seen on HBO’s Barry.”

The author-playwright has received a few notable awards along the way. In 2008, his novel Band Fags! was named Best Fiction by the LGBTQ book-of-themonth club, InsightOut. Then, in 2009, his novel Drama Queers! was named Best Gay Romance by the Lambda Literary Association.

In 2013, Polito and Bentley moved from New York City back to Michigan. “We were featured on the HGTV show ‘House Hunters.’ We now live in Pleasant Ridge with our two dogs, Clyde and Jack.”

“My parents and my sister’s family still live in Hazel Park, so I’m there often. Polito said, “I love that more young people are moving to Hazel Park, which is exactly what my parents did when I was a small child. It’s a great place to raise a family. When one Hazel Parker does something great, everyone in the city takes pride in it.”

Polito spent the past four years directing mobile video games for the Episode app, including Pitch Perfect, Mean Girls, Pretty Little Liars, and Demi Lovato’s World Tour, but said he recently gave that venture up to focus his energy on a new one.

“The big news is that I’m finally in the process of pursuing my dream to produce my first feature film. This past year I wrote and developed a modern-day adaptation of John Hughes’ Pretty in Pink. Unfortunately, Paramount passed when we pitched the script to them, even after Molly Ringwald herself had read it, and was being considered to direct.”

But that only made Polito more determined to see his project make it onto the big screen.

“We are now in the process of revising the screenplay to make it more of an original story, keeping the same characters and premise,” he said. “The (working) title is Peasant Ridge and it tells the story of a transgender girl from Hazel Park who moves to Pleasant Ridge in order to live life as her true self. We will begin production within the coming year!”

On Saturday June 1, 2019, at 10 A.M., the City of Hazel Park raised a rainbow flag in honor of June being declared Pride Month. “I’ve been asked to give a reading from my books immediately following that at the Hazel Park Library, and to speak a little bit about my life. It’s an honor to be recognized by my hometown. Thirty-five years ago, I would’ve never imagined the day I’d see a Pride flag flying high over the Hazel Park City Hall.”

By Ingrid Sjostrand

FOR ALMOST FOUR YEARS NOW THE FORMER HAZEL PARK RACEWAY has been morphing from an iconic landmark into what could become an iconic economic engine for the city – the Tri-County Commerce Center.

Commercial real estate developer Ashley Capital purchased the land and is currently constructing its second of three buildings on the 120-acre property at 1400 10 Mile Rd, located at the corner of I-75 and I-696.

Building Two, which is 650,000 square feet, is scheduled to be completed in November 2019 and is already attracting potential tenants, according to Construction Project Manager Collin Graw.

“We’ve already started getting quite a few prospects in a building that’s not even done yet. We don’t even have a floor yet,” Graw says. “With the type of interest we are getting right now, we are comfortable moving forward with getting the site pad ready for Building Three, which won’t be done until 2021.”

Building One of the Tri-County Commerce Center was completed in the spring of 2017 and quickly attracted three well-known tenants – Amazon, LG Electronics and Bridgewater Interiors – which occupy four of the spaces in the 575,000 square foot building, leaving only one small space still available.

“In one year, we took a property that had maybe 50 jobs and created 340 permanent jobs in one building and literally hundreds of subsidiary jobs,” Graw says. “From a financial standpoint, it couldn’t be more successful.”

The importance and history of the Raceway to the community was not lost on Ashley Capital though, so they found a way to preserve the southern yellow pine that made up the horse stables.

“When we recognized the value of the wood, we thought ‘This could be a way of honoring this iconic structure and keeping memories alive by keeping the wood in Detroit.’” Graw says. “We immediately started seeking solutions to save the wood.”

Ashley asked two local artisan companies, End Grain Woodworking Company and Architectural Salvage Warehouse of Detroit, if they could repurpose the lumber. Both jumped at the chance and have created custom furniture, and one-of-a-kind pieces available for purchase.

WHILE THE TRI-COUNTY COMMERCE CENTER has received mostly positive feedback and support from the City, Graw says there has been some hesitation from residents that their quiet corner of the city is being disrupted.

“To put it in the most diplomatic terms, the increased traffic has kind of ruffled some feathers some of it rightfully so,” he says. “Some people go through the neighborhoods at high rates of speed. We’ve encouraged the City to enforce the laws and we’ve tried to put in policies to help control that on the property.”

He encourages residents to be open to the change and see the benefits the Tri-County Commerce Center will bring to Hazel Park.

“We encourage the community to embrace it. It’s a big change but it’s a change for the better and will really improve the city,” Graw says. “It’s 120 acres that is going to be paying a lot in taxes and is only going to have a positive residual effect on the community as a whole. Really, take pride in the fact that developers like us and others are choosing areas like Hazel Park to invest and really better the entire region.”

By Maggie Boleyn

“DOWNTOWN” IS A UNIQUELY AMERICAN TERM, referring to the central business district of a city. Plans are continuing apace to develop Hazel Park’s downtown. “We have a growing food and nightlife scene,” says Mike McFall, member of the Hazel Park Downtown Development Authority. He is spearheading the new “Downtown Hazel Park initiative.”

McFall says that restaurants and bars like Mabel Gray, Latido at joebar, and Cellarmen’s bring many people into the city who have never been here before. “Once here, though, they discover great longtime Hazel Park staples like House of Shamrocks and Kozy Lounge,” he adds.

“Downtown” Hazel Park may not be exactly where you think it is. McFall explains: “Downtown Hazel Park is our John R business corridor, roughly starting at 10 Mile running south to 8 Mile.” The two-mile stretch is cut in half by I-75 at 9 Mile. “The city is working on creating a more pedestrianfriendly corridor,” McFall said. One goal is to make the corridor “more walkable” as well as adding “protected bike lanes,” McFall says.

A big part of Hazel Park’s Master Plan calls for “attracting millennials and young families.” McFall points to several features that make the city attractive for young people.

“Hazel Park’s hot, yet still affordable housing market is attracting many young people looking to buy their first home,” he said. “Millennials are attracted to thriving eclectic neighborhoods, which is exactly what Hazel Park has to offer. I believe many young people are attracted to the “bohemian” lifestyle Hazel Park offers,” he added.

“The friendly people are Hazel Park’s biggest selling point,” McFall said. “Neighbors look out for one another and business owners are very community oriented, always looking to give back anyway they can.”

CREATING AND RETAINING JOBS AND NEW INVESTMENT within the City in order to expand the City’s tax base is another priority.

“There are always challenges when trying to attract new businesses, but I think a lot of entrepreneurs are taking notice of the positive changes occurring along the John R corridor, including south of 9 Mile,” McFall said. North of 9 Mile, he pointed to the newly-opened Youngbloods, a barbershop and men’s clothing store. McFall says there are also other great developments in the works for both north and south of 9 Mile.

McFall is working on the Downtown Hazel Park website, http://downtownhazelpark.com. “This site will feature businesses and events,” he said. “It will also be an entrepreneur hub for those looking to open a business here in the city.”

Many arts-based businesses have recently opened their doors in the John R Corridor, helping in part to foster the “bohemian” atmosphere McFall spoke of. “For example, Color Ink Studio recently relocated from Berkley to John R south of 9 Mile,” McFall said. “It’s a beautiful building they completely renovated. They offer art classes, workshops, and have gallery space.”

McFall was quick to counter any critics who might fear that Hazel Park is simply becoming another Ferndale. Maintaining the original flavor of the city is important, McFall says.

“I love Ferndale, but I don’t want to be Ferndale, I want to be Hazel Park,” McFall said. “I am a big proponent that ‘Hazel Park is the next Hazel Park.’ I’d like bits and pieces of the things that make Ferndale successful, but our Hazel Park identity is important and we want to remain the friendly little city we are known to be. People are attracted to the quirky hometown vibe that Hazel Park has to offer,” he concludes.

By Andrea Grieg

THIS TIME LAST YEAR, SCOUT PARK (in Central Hazel Park) was the site of a community tree-planting day. No one realized then that the trees were just the first of new things to grow out of the park.

Since then, Hazel Park has been selected for an incredibly generous grant from the Sutar-Sutaruk-Meyer Foundation, which donated $350,000 to the City of Hazel Park to help grow our Recreation Department. One of the ambitious projects planned is a brand-new, state-of-the-art playground. Scout Park was chosen to build the playground because of its central location, nestled within residential areas and adjacent to the junior high school.

The Director of the Parks & Recreation Department is Sareen Papakhain. She started working for the City as an unpaid intern while getting her master’s degree in urban planning at Wayne State University. Her senior thesis was planned around Hazel Park’s Recreation Department specifically, and her thesis is currently a key element in the City’s Master Plan.

“This is an incredible and exciting opportunity, and no one deserves it more than the residents of Hazel Park,” Papakhain says. “Hazel Park is growing, and the families of this city will reap the benefit of the community growth.” Before the grant from the Sutar-Sutaruk-Meyer Foundation, the Parks Department was almost dissolved due to lack of funding. Now Scout Park’s revamp is just the first of many long-term goals the City is starting to catch up on.

The Foundation picked Leather & Associates to help with the playground’s design. Leather & Associates is a custom playground design firm known for drawing from community input for their designs. On March 5 of this year, also known as Design Day, designer Jim Houghton visited with Hazel Park’s elementary school students and parents to ask what was included in their dream playground. The responses included a zipline, a maze, musical instruments, rock climbing, swings of all sizes, slides, and snake tubes. However, one of the most highly requested elements from the students was accessibility and making sure the playground had options for children of all capabilities to play on. Because of this, a wheelchair accessible merry-go-round was included in the design, along with swings and other ideas.

Houghton took all the ideas from that morning and spent five hours designing the perfect playground. His design sketches were revealed that evening at the Junior High. The design was very well-received and can be seen on the Parks & Recreation Department’s web site.

Now that the design has been revealed, the Parks & Recreation Department is rallying for volunteers to make the playground a reality. Papakhain strongly encourages all residents to get involved: from filling out the Master Plan’s surveys online to attending community meetings, to volunteering for the new Scout Park playground assembly. The building will take place the week of June 10 through the 15 (see ad on the next page). Residents are encouraged to sign up for a shift, help raise funds, or provide necessities and tools. Food sponsors and financial sponsorship in exchange for advertising are also welcomed. Contact the Department at (248) 547-5535 or hprecreation@hazelpark.org.

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By Sara E. Teller

IT’S FUN AND REWARDING to work on our home and garden projects. It’s also an opportunity to remember those who have no digs of their own, and are struggling just to find a safe place for their family to live. While working on DIGS 2019, we learned about a local organization, Bethany Christian Services, helping to resettle refugees from around the world.

Bethany Christian Services is a global nonprofit organization that brings families together and keeps families together. Programs include adoption, foster care and pregnancy counseling. Bethany also provides counseling to families, assists refugees and immigrants with resettling in the United States, and partners with several international countries to help keep families, near and far, together. Bethany is founded on Christian values and beliefs and they work to protect, empower, and strengthen families.

“Strengthening families for the well-being of children is our top priority,” said Starr Allen-Pettway, LMSW, Branch Director, adding, “The work we do equips families to be the answer for children in need. Every child deserves love and a loving place to call home.”

IN SOUTHEASTERN MICHIGAN, Bethany’s foster care program provides homes for the temporary placement of children. They also place those children who become available for adoption with their forever families through the state. There is also a domestic infant adoption program, which offers familybased support for birth mothers who make the decision to make an adoption plan for their children, and a teen outreach initiative in which Bethany partners with various local agencies to provide life skills training and education for youth in the Detroit Metropolitan area.

“Bethany makes every effort to ensure that families have the skills and training necessary to support the needs of children coming into foster care,” Allen-Pettway explained.

Bethany staff members come from a variety of professional backgrounds. Most have social service and counseling backgrounds and provide either direct or indirect support for the services offered by the organization. Other members have appropriate academic degrees for the positions they occupy.

“The specialties vary depending on department, but the one thing consistent throughout our organization is the love and compassion that all Bethany staff have for people,” Allen- Pettway said, adding, “Bethany leaders have a heart to serve and dig into the hard places. As leaders, the commitment is to ensure that we remember the overlooked, the forgotten, and serve them to the best of our ability.Leaders understand that many of the systems for which we do work are broken, and it is our responsibility to be the hope for those that find themselves in sometimes very hard places.”

Bethany Christian Services is always looking for the help of volunteers.

“We are always looking for volunteers – or, in our eyes, partners – who can support the various needs of the children and families that we serve. It is always our desire to do more, and that ability becomes greater when we have more hands at the table to support the needs.”

www. Bethany.org/MadisonHeights •

248-414-4080 •

By David Ryals

Ferndale Friends recently spoke with Dr. Joe Kort – a psychotherapist, coach and author specializing in LGBQT sexual and relationship health. He founded his practice in 1985, and his specialties include gay affirmative psychotherapy (emphasizing how being knowledgeable about gay issues informs the therapeutic process) and IMAGO Relationship Therapy (a specific program to help couples and singles learn to improve their communication and relationship skills). For years his practice has specialized in sex therapy and sexual identity issues, including Out-Of-Control Sexual Behavior; responsible non-monogamy/monogamy; childhood sexual, physical and emotional abuse; mixed-orientation marriages; coming out; and depression and anxiety. His group also offers workshops for couples and singles as well.

Kort is the author of two books on gay male identity and relationships. His latest book is Is My Husband Gay, Straight or Bi?: A Guide for Women Concerned About Their Men. Joe sat down with Ferndale Friends for an interview about his new book, career and day to day work.

FF: What inspired you as a doctor to focus on people’s sexuality and sexual relationships?

JK: I think it originally came from me focusing on my own sexuality growing up. When I started to work in the field I saw many sexual abuse survivors and became trained in working with them. What I found was there was great training around treatments in helping people heal but there was no sexual health model to teach people what healthy sexuality could look like for them after their recovery from sexual abuse. I also worked with people who experienced “sex addiction”/out of control sexual behavior that too didn’t have a sexual health component to help people find what healthy sexuality was for them. So, this began my quest in seeking training and certification in sex therapy. Also, in working with couples I found that if you talk about your relationship and get better connected that sex will just come. The truth is that people need to focus on sexual health conversation and talk about their erotic desires and differences.

FF: How has your career evolved and who are your inspirations in the field on human sexuality?

JK: In the beginning of my work, it was all about sexual abuse and trauma and “sex addiction“/out of control sexual behaviors. I no longer believe that sex can be addictive but I do believe there is a lot of sexual suffering for all kinds of reasons, so I have to change my stands over time. My inspirations have included so many people in the sex therapy and education field, including Esther Perel and Dan Savage.

FF: What is the reason for your interest in helping men, specifically who are on the LGBTQ spectrum?

JK: This is largely due to the fact that I am a gay man. I saw how much therapy helped me in my teenage years throughout my 20s and coming out, and I wanted to also offer this to the LGBTQ population. Also, women have a window to have sex with other women without calling it bisexuality or lesbianism. Men are stigmatized, and if they have one homosexual thought they are considered to be gay or bisexual. I find this ridiculous, and I work hard at eliminating the stigma.

FF: What prompted you to write your books ‘Cracking The Erotic Code’ and ‘Erotic Orientation’? What has their reception been?

JK: I wanted to start by writing some short books that were easily accessible to the public for gay, bisexual men and for straight couples and individuals. People lead very busy lives and don’t have time to read full books, so I thought I would write some short books helping people reduce any shame and misunderstandings about their erotic lives and their sexuality. They have been very well-received by people who are thankful to begin a conversation about making their sex lives and erotic lives better.

FF: How have you affected the people you help? What are your ultimate goals with your work?

JK: I’m not just a therapist, I’m an educator. I think I have affected people by giving them good information, good resources. And, directing them toward new possibilities of making their relationships and their sex lives work with themselves and their partners.

JOEKORT.COM

STRAIGHTGUISE.COM

GAYAFFIRMATIVETHERAPY.COM

YOUTUBE.COM/JOEKORT

By David Ryals

DANNY’S IRISH PUB HAS BEEN A STAPLE OF FERNDALE FOR 30 YEARS. It stands as a testament that a traditional friendly neighborhood pub never goes out of style: everyone comes here and everyone is welcome. It’s nestled along Woodward Avenue in the heart of Ferndale and is a mainstay in the community with a loyal following of longtime regulars.

In traditional bar fashion, Danny’s is small and dark save for soft lighting from the green bulbs on the ceiling. Various other interesting flair adorns the walls and bar, with a couple pinball machines tucked away toward the back. The thing that sticks out the most about Danny’s is its solid character.

Danny himself spoke to Ferndale Friends to explain the longevity of his success. “Our formula is to keep it simple: Pour good drinks at a reasonable price. Keep the menu simple and easy to prepare, add things when you see a need for them, not just because the guy down the street has them. Many bar owners think they have to have all of the latest things, but many times it’s just a waste of money. Give your customers what they want, not what you think is cool. The most important is to find the best employees you can, treat them fair, and give them good reason to stay with you. That should be the secret of any good business.”

On the evolution of Ferndale throughout the years and its impact on his business, he said, “The community has changed dramatically over 34 years. Our own contribution to the city has always been to welcome all people regardless of race, creed, color, gender or sexual orientation. As things evolved, we were in a perfect place to welcome new people and ideas into the community. However, it has always been our position that everyone was welcome, unless they caused trouble. Our relationship with our customers is one of family. And just like family sometimes we have disagreements, but eventually we make up.”

ON HIS OWN BACKGROUND AND LIFELONG RELATIONSHIP WITH FERNDALE: “My family moved to Ferndale in 1946. Back then, it was a quiet community where everybody knew everybody. Kids played outside all summer until the street lights came on. My wife, Sally, has an even longer history. Her grandfather had a grist mill on the northwest corner of 8 Mile and Pinecrest. In 1946 my father built a restaurant on 8 Mile near Pinecrest. The grist mill was gone by that time.

“I bought the bar from Nick Pappas in 1985 when everybody was saying not to buy in Ferndale. However, my history with the city made me ignore all of that good advice.

“In the beginning, Nicks – later to be named Danny’s when I accidentally broke the Nick’s sign – had more of a county-western atmosphere. There were a lot of fights and a lot of customers being barred. It was a little rough-sledding in those days.

“When you kick out your base, you have to rebuild from the ground up. Over the years, the city changed and the new residents began to discover us.

“About ten years ago I left my full-time job and decided to spend more time with the bar. I found some of the best bartenders around and convinced them to come to work for me. They are my second family and they don’t seem to want to leave. I’m a very lucky owner.”