By Maggie Boleyn

CIVITAS COFFEE HOUSE MAY BE YOUR FIRST HINT that this is not your grandfather’s Hazel Park. As the city slowly transforms from an economy which heavily relied on the Raceway for revenue, you see more service-related businesses opening, creating new opportunities for residents to connect with one another, forming a new sense of community.

Students of ancient Rome will immediately recognize that Civitas Coffee House, by its very name, aims to be such a communal place. The Latin term civitas, in the time of the late Roman Republic, referred to the social body of the citizens. While ancient Roman citizens were united by law, Civitas Coffee House unites those who love good coffee and tea.

Jessica Bracker, owner of Civitas explains, “We wanted to create a space for people to get together in the community and get to know each other.”

This feeling of community helps shape the vision for Civitas as a “place to meet and get to know neighbors.” Civitas supports local artisans with nearby artists displaying their work in coffee shops on weekends in the past.

“There are not a lot of places, except bars, to get to know your neighbors,” she said. While local bars can be a good way to meet others, Bracker joked that one advantage at Civitas is “it’s easier to talk to others in a coffee shop.”

Bracker and her husband have visited coffee houses around the world, logging trips to over 250 coffee houses. Bracker’s husband has been steeped in coffee house culture since his teen years. The couple has lived in Hazel Park for ten years.

Bracker says she likes Hazel Park and what the city is about. “It’s a nice little city.” She likes the recent growth and the opportunity for further development. “We like the Ferndale, Royal Oak, Hazel Park area,” she continues. She enjoys the “small-town/city-life” feel of the area.

BUT YOU WANT TO KNOW ABOUT THE COFFEE. Civitas serves lattes, mochas, and other flavored drinks. “Our main focus is coffee,” Bracker said. There is also a selection of loose-leaf teas for customers to savor. There isn’t a large food menu. Bracker says, “We’d rather do a few things really well.” You can grab a muffin or a piece of fruit to go with your coffee or tea. Initially, Civitas did not offer decaffeinated coffees, but Bracker said that they have recently put decaf selections on the menu, and there are several caffeine-free teas available.

Civitas aims for strictly fresh coffee, providing the best customer experience. “People really don’t know how long coffee has been sitting,” she says. Two methods the shop uses are the French press and pour-over. “French press” uses coarsely ground beans which are stirred into water boiled at 195 degrees and then left to sit for four minutes. “Pourover” is a drip-coffee method in which the water is poured in a thin, slow, steady stream over a filter cone. Both methods provide a superior coffee experience.

The Civitas website warns new customers not to be alarmed if your French Press drink has a few coffee grounds. “A small amount of grounds in your cup is perfectly fine and normal.”

Memorial Day weekend marked the first anniversary for Civitas. Bracker says future plans for Civitas include using their own roaster to offer customers an even greater variety of coffees from other countries. Civitas Coffee House is located at 906 E. Nine Mile Road next to Hungry Howie’s. Visit their website at

By David Ryals

THE KOZY LOUNGE HAS BEEN HAZEL PARK’S PREMIER NEIGHBORHOOD LOUNGE for over 50 years. It’s located near the intersection of 10 Mile and I-696, and serves American comfort food and a great selection of drinks priced for value. Known for its late-night food service and creative daily specials, the Kozy Lounge is the perfect spot to belly up to the bar for a burger, shot and a beer, or catch up with friends over a cocktail.

It’s been a family-owned business for over 30 years now and has been a consistently comfy place to hang out and play darts, pool, or shuffleboard for locals and visitors alike. The Kozy definitely lives up to its name. Its owners, Robert and Michele Haskell, spoke to Ferndale Friends to tell us their whole story of success and longevity.

Rob said, “We are so grateful for the opportunity to express our love for Hazel Park and the surrounding communities. A bar is four walls, a roof and a license. A neighborhood watering hole has all the finest furnishings that money can’t buy: Its patrons. It’s layered with characters, stories, advice, experiences and heart which give it charm and life. I could talk for days about all the great people that pull open the side door, letting sunshine and weather pierce into the warmth of Kozy Lounge. Without fail, there are always a few ‘hellos’ exchanged before you’re done adjusting your stool.”

LIKE EVERY LONG-STANDING BUSINESS there are countless stories to tell. Michelle spoke about how her parents first met there. “My parents met here for the first time over 30 ago, when my mom served dad Captain & Diet Coke over the same laminate counter that is there today. We all felt sadness when the racetrack closed and shared beers with the former employees when they lost their jobs. I still have pictures of the previous owner and their deep bonds within the city. The Kozy has lasted despite all the other changes in the city because it has its own soul. Every owner, employee and patron has been involved with this city in a communal way too.”

Their business is an anchor inside Hazel Park’s storied history. “The Kozy is a hub that helps bring culture to the city in the most humble ways. It’s a place where neighbors meet after work. Neighbors stop in to find the best electrician, mechanic, babysitter, lawn service person or shuffleboard player. If you’re a blue-collar worker, our place is for you. The Kozy is a place where people fall in love, get engaged, mourn the loss of a family member, celebrate a birthday, a ladies night out or a beer with friends after work. It has the same coolers that have been a short purgatory for millions of beer bottles in the last 57 years. Our hot griddle is where thousands of Kozy burgers have been devoured or loaded on roach coaches that once drove to all the tool-anddye shops around I-696. Our place is where dances are danced, tears cried, teams cheered, gossip whispered and glasses raised for a toast. You can’t help but belong. Kozy patrons are family.”

Rob closed by emphasizing the business owners in Hazel Park support each other no matter what. They participate in charity together, grow together and share ideas. He said he wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.

The Kozy Lounge is open daily:

Monday-Saturday 10:00 A.M. – 2:00 A.M.

Sunday 12:00 P.M.-12:00 A.M.

(248) 547-5017 | KOZYLOUNGE.COM

By Sara E. Teller

HAZEL PARK IS NOW TRAVEL CHANNELFAMOUS! The globe-trotting channel recognized city staple Loui’s Pizza as one of the best pizzas in the country on a January 2019 episode of Andrew Zimmern’s The Zimmern List. But this shouldn’t be news to residents, as most have known it as number one since its opening in 1977.

Owner Nykolas Sulkiwskyj says the exposure is a reminder that their formula is working and is creating a whole new crowd of fans.

“It was very surreal to be featured on Andrew Zimmern’s show. The large camera crew was a little overwhelming, but it was overshadowed with the pride we have for our craft.” He says. “The feature has affected our business in many ways. The positive effect of the show is shown when we see many new faces coming in.”

LOUI’S, LOCATED AT 23141 DEQUINDRE RD, is most known for its Detroit-style pizza. Baked in a rectangular pan, the pie has crispy corners and thick, fluffy dough. Sulkiwskyj says there are a few other tricks that make Detroit-style special, including its caramelized cheese crust.

“Our pizza is special due to our ‘old school’ cooking style and our ‘nevercut-corners’ business approach,” he says. “We cook our pizzas via brick oven and we vowed to never switch to conveyer-style ovens.”

Another appealing aspect of Loui’s is the atmosphere. The restaurant gives off a warm, Italian feel and the walls are lined with chianti bottles signed by customers and hung amongst string lights.

“The atmosphere at Loui’s is nearly the same as back when it opened, including the beautiful and unique chianti bottles that our customers sign and we in turn use as décor,” Sulkiwskyj says. “We try

to keep the ‘old school’ vibe and style to pay homage to the generations of customers that have supported us for many years.”

The most popular pizzas at Loui’s are the traditional cheese and the pepperoni. And the antipasto salad with homemade Italian dressing is another musttry. Sulkiwskyj’s has a few favorites of his own too.

“Personally, I either go for the cheese, pepperoni, mushroom and onion pizza, cooked well,” he says. “Or a baked cappelletti; which is meat stuffed noodles with our homemade spaghetti sauce, then topped with cheese and baked in the oven. It is quite delicious!”

And he knows his way around the menu pretty well, having worked at Loui’s since his teen years.

“I started helping my grandfather at the restaurant, while in high school. I would come in on weekends and help with preparation of pizza dough,” he says. “After my grandfather passed away, I was given the reins of the business. I continue to prepare the pizza dough, while picking up managerial duties.”

He doesn’t see Loui’s slowing down anytime soon, especially with the new TV fame, but Sulkiwskyj knows they wouldn’t have the success they do without the City of Hazel Park and the community that’s been eating there for over 40 years.

“My favorite thing about Hazel Park is how close the community is to one another,” he says. “The ‘family-type feel’ everyone shows is fantastic and we wouldn’t change it for the world.”

By Jill Lorie Hurst


“Ch-Ch-ch-ch Changes. Turn and face the strange,” wrote David Bowie. When I heard Dino’s Lounge and M-Brew were up for sale, I grabbed this assignment so I could meet Dean Bach before he left Ferndale.

He agreed to meet up at Dino’s on a gray Monday afternoon in February, a week after the opening of Belle Iron Grille, his new place in Gaylord. Bach was emotional, pragmatic and wise as he looked around Dino’s and talked about childhood on the East side of Detroit. “I grew up in the 48205.” Life in the restaurant world, a ride that started as a 15-year-old dishwasher at Eastside Charley’s.

He took a risk on Ferndale when he bought the Rialto Cafe at the corner of 9 and Woodward, opening Dino’s Lounge in 2002. “We were ahead of the curve then.”

Some thought he wouldn’t make it. He talks about the cook who quit two weeks after opening, sure the place was destined for doom. Instead, Dino’s and later M-Brew (“my independent child, it runs without me, which is what I wanted”) became part of the fabric of fabulous Ferndale.

From the start he wanted Dino’s to be “a little bit of everything. Something for everyone. The corner bar for Ferndale.” Philosophical. “Today every place is a concept. Does the town need a neighborhood gathering place anymore?”

BOTTOM LINE, HE THINKS IT’S TIME FOR DINO’S TO CHANGE. He had ideas, of course. On this day they included selling or partnering. Stepping away. “I owe it to Ferndale and myself to do something that’s right for the community.”

He looked at me. “What do you think?” Me?! I hope they keep serving the chips. He smiles. “Everybody loves a good kettle chip.”

His idea? “I take a lot of ideas from my staff. Everyone has good ideas.” He’s listened and learned from his staff, his parents, local leaders and Ferndale residents. He listens to his wife, Denise, who encouraged him to throw himself into the restaurant business he loved, full-time, back in 2008. When he turned 50, the couple started looking forward, open to change.

A 4th of July visit to Lake Otsego clicked for Denise. “This is where I want to be.” Bach, emotional, remembers the moment. Laughs. “I couldn’t believe that (city girl) Zsa Zsa wanted to move to Green Acres.”

He loves the new place, Belle Iron Grille, and he is enjoying becoming part of a new community. “It’s making me grow as a person to learn about this different culture. Talk about different viewpoints, but people are the same everywhere.” He is enjoying this new experience.

OUR TALK RETURNED TO FERNDALE AGAIN AND AGAIN. Thoughts about Ferndale’s future? He is optimistic. “Ferndale will continue to grow, but Ferndale of the future will still be Ferndale.” I liked his faith.

A few days after we spoke, I learned that Dean Bach had taken Dino’s and M-Brew off the market. Bach reached out from the beach in Aruba! “We’re definitely happy about… reinventing Dino’s and making some adjustments to M-Brew. I just felt I wasn’t quite ready to simply sell and leave.”

Dino’s Lounge is located at 22740 Woodward in Ferndale. M-Brew is at 177 Vester Ave in Ferndale. Belle Iron Grille is located at 4029 Old US 27 in Gaylord.

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.”


By Sara Teller

EACH YEAR, THE FRONT PORCH FESTIVAL BRINGS FERNDALE RESIDENTS TOGETHER for a day of music on neighborhood porches with a variety of bands playing an eclectic mix of tunes. Planning for this year’s event is well underway. “We are looking to have a porch this year dedicated to children’s music,” said Michael Benghiat, its founder and executive producer. “Additionally, we are always looking at components outside of music such as comedy or spoken word on porches in between performances.”

He added, “From day one we’ve always explored how we can extend the Front Porch brand and the event past the 6:00 P.M. cutoff into the downtown area.” The idea would be for merchants and venues to host music well into the night. Benghiat called the concept “kind of like a Front Porch at Nite.”

This summer, the line-up is also set to expand. “The first two years we focused on just getting the event under our legs. This year, however, we just may accomplish something like this,” Benghiat explained. “Last year we had twenty-seven porches and fifty-seven performances. This year, if we choose, we can have as many as thirty-five porches” which would equate to seventy performances. However, he said there is a need to “try to keep the footprint as tight as possible so that attendees can easily get from porch-to-porch and see as much music as possible.”

There will be some return acts from the first two years as well as new entertainment with submissions being received from bands all over Michigan. Benghiat said, “While the concept of music on porches fits so well with the folk, singer songwriter and Americana genres, we have submissions from performers labeling themselves as powerpop, blues, jazz, classical, gospel, house/dance/EDM, worldbeat improv, hip-hop, funk instrumental, modern country and more.”

In addition to planning the festival, The Front Porch television show is still in the works. “We’re still working on the production of a potential show, which may not necessarily be on a TV platform per se,” Benghiat said. “The most important component needed, of course, is funding. We’re still seeking the needed funding to produce a ten-to-thirteen-episode series.” 

Benghiat is pleased with the success of the first two events and is thankful for the support received. “Enough cannot be said for the tremendous support we receive from Ferndale residents to lend us their porches that are turned into stages for the day and all the artists and performers for their willingness to participate,” he said. “And, we so appreciate our partnership and collaboration with the City of Ferndale and police.”

For more information, check out



Palmer Park Art Fair

DETROIT’S PALMER PARK hosts one of the area’s most beautiful boutique art fairs on June 1-2. The artist tents are in a serpentine pattern winding near the lake and up to the log cabin. This creates a relaxed environment inviting shoppers to take their time and explore. The jurors for this show tend to select artists that enhance that calm atmosphere, though there certainly are some of the edgier Detroit artists participating. The show features over 60 professional artists from across the region and also includes more emerging artists than just about any other juried art fair. Mint Artists Guild, the teen art program that has a small presence at the Funky Ferndale Art Fair features as many as fourteen teens in a group tent. The Detroit Fine Arts Breakfast Club adds another ten adult emerging artists. Breakfast Club tent participants are new to art fairs and include artists in their twenties and others close to seventy. This year the fair adds an authors’ tent, featuring area writers. Food trucks and a beer tent round out the offerings. The art fair is June 1st and 2nd. Saturday hours are 10 AM-7 PM, Sunday 11 AM-5 PM. Free parking is available in area lots and along Merrill Plaisance. To get to the art fair head south on Woodward and take the first right, about 3/4 mile south of Seven Mile. Information and artists lists are at 



Fine Art Fine Wine Fair

THE FINE ART FINE WINE FAIR WILL BE HAPPENING AGAIN at St Mary’s June 22-23, featuring dozens of juried fine artists with one-of-a-kind exquisitely crafted works. Artists from many states participate and display works of painting, mixed-media, fiber art, drawing, jewelry, sculpture, and many more categories. We will also have wine tasting tickets available so that you can enjoy your art shopping experience while tasting an amazing variety of wines. For details visit The Grosse Pointe Art Fair will also be returning for its second year to the Grosse Pointe Yacht Club May 18-19 in partnership with the Great Lakes Boating Festival, which has free admission and free parking at the high school with a complimentary shuttle. For more information visit 


Ferndale Community Concert Band

THE FERNDALE COMMUNITY CONCERT BAND wants to thank our patrons, advertisers, donors and friends for their continued support. The FCCB will end their Fourth Concert Season on Sunday, June 16, 2019, 3:00 PM, with its “Salute to our Fathers” Concert, held on Father’s Day, at Ferndale High School, 881 Pinecrest. Historically, a patriotic and father-themed concert will be enjoyed by all! Immediately following the concert, the FCCB will host their Annual Ice Cream Social, to say “Thank You” to all our concert goers who have attended our concerts, this season.

The 2019-2020 Concert Season runs from September through June. The FCCB performs (5) five concerts per season, usually in October, December, February, April and June. The Ferndale Community Concert Band is a diverse, multigenerational musical ensemble of experienced volunteer musicians from all over Metro Detroit. Its Mission is twofold: to provide quality, challenging musical and mentoring experiences for the members and student musicians, as well as educating and entertaining the citizens of Ferndale and surrounding communities. Please check out our website at or email us at for more information about the Band. The FCCB was established in May 2015 as a nonprofit 501(c) (3) organization.


7/18 – 8/15 – 9/19 | VESTER & WOODWARD

Get Reel Movies On Vester

OUTDOOR MOVIES IN THE MIDDLE OF DOWNTOWN FERNDALE return for the 8th year this Summer on July 18, August 15 and September 19! Enjoy a summer evening under the stars, watching a blockbuster movie while lounging in your camp chair or blanket, right in the middle of the street. FREE outdoor movies include pre-show activities and entertainment, food and snack vendors and, most importantly, a guaranteed good time. Movies start at dusk, but get there early, pick your spot and enjoy treats from our vendors or nearby restaurants! The big – 26-foot wide! – screen will be set up right on Vester Street, between Woodward & Bermuda. Get all the details at or or



Detroit Soup

DETROIT SOUP, A PROGRAM OF BUILD INSTITUTE, is a microgranting dinner celebrating and supporting creative projects in Detroit. For a $5 donation, attendees receive soup, salad, bread and a vote and hear four presentations ranging from art, urban agriculture, social justice, social entrepreneurs, education, technology and more. Each presenter has four minutes to share their idea and answer four questions from the audience. At the event, attendees eat, talk, share resources, enjoy art and vote on the project they think benefits the city the most. At the end of the night, we count the ballots and the winner goes home with all of the money raised to carry out their project. Winners come back to a future SOUP dinner to report their project’s progress.

In addition to funding projects, SOUP aims to:

• Empower residents • Help create jobs

• Allow people to establish new relationships and networks

• Promote action and change

• Foster critical dialogue • Instill neighborhood pride

• Provide a deeper understanding of democracy

The SOUP model is now being replicated in over 170 cities around the world, while in Detroit is has lead over $140,000 in local giving $5 at a time with over 20,000 attendees participating in one of the 176 community dinners throughout the city. Build Institute is hosting an upcoming Youth SOUP, a special Detroit SOUP focused on celebrating and supporting projects by changemakers age 14-24. Anyone is welcome to attend, but proposals must involve and should be presented by Detroit young people. Youth SOUP takes place on Saturday, March 30th at Durfee Innovation Society from 1-4. To find out more about these and other upcoming events, check out or ■


Huntington Woods Home Tour

THE 27TH ANNUAL HUNTINGTON WOODS HOME TOUR is an open house tour of five beautiful homes, featuring a variety of architectural styles which reflect the diversity and character of our city. All proceeds raised from this event are redistributed to local charities supporting education, women and children’s causes, such as Berkley High School scholarships, the Huntington Woods 4th of July Parade, Berkley Youth Assistance program, Norup Food Pantry and other great organizations. Sunday, June 2, 2019, 1:00 – 5:00 PM. Ticket prices: $20 advanced $25 at the door (16 years and older). Huntington Woods Library 26415 Scotia Rd, Huntington Woods MI ■



Forgotten Harvest’s 27th Annual Comedy Night

ACTOR/COMEDIAN JIM GAFFIGAN WILL HEADLINE the 27th Annual Comedy Night hosted by Metro Detroit’s only food rescue organization, Forgotten Harvest. Comedy Night will take place on Friday, June

7th at the Fox Theatre. Tickets range from $35 – $175, and will be available through the Fox Theatre box office or at Corporate sponsorships start at $1000 and can be purchased by contacting Rebecca Gade-Sawicki at (248) 864-7527. Jim Gaffigan is a four-time Grammy nominated comedian, actor, two-time New York Times best-selling author, top touring performer, and multi-platinum-selling father of five. Gaffigan is known around the world for his unique brand of humor which largely revolves around fatherhood and his observations on life and food. The event offers a chance for Forgotten Harvest and its supporters to celebrate their achievements in the community. Tickets are going fast. Act now to get into the action. ■



Art Of The Cocktail

THE FERNDALE DOWNTOWN DEVELOPMENT AUTHORITY’S signature fundraising event, The Art of the Cocktail, returns a fun-filled sixth year on June 20th. The Ferndale DDA continues its efforts to raise funds for public art in the district by bringing back the event of the year! Exhibiting the creative blending talents of the district’s best bartenders, attendees will be the judge of each cocktail creation, crafted from identical

ingredients supplied to each bartender. Guests can watch the creative genius at work, taste the results and vote for their favorite to designate Downtown Ferndale’s Cocktail of the Year. The evening also includes a silent

auction, music, appetizers and much more! A limited quantity of tickets will be available, via the Ferndale DDA or PayPal, so make sure you get yours! All proceeds help the DDA continue its efforts to raise funds for public art in Downtown Ferndale. ■



Berkley Art Bash

ART, MUSIC AND FOOD LOVERS looking to add a little color to their weekend will find a diverse assortment of photographs, garden art, jewelry, pottery, paintings, gourmet offerings, live music and more at the Berkley Art Bash in beautiful downtown Berkley. The show, which is presented by the Berkley Area Chamber of Commerce, has more than 150 vendors with many of them showcasing Michigan artists. Kids activities

include inflatable moon bouncer, creative craft projects and air brush tattoos. Attendees will enjoy free parking and many shops along Twelve Mile and Coolidge will be hosting sidewalk sales and offering


up additional entertainment & activities throughout the day. 12 Mile Road between Kipling and Buckingham in downtown Berkley. ■



Michigan Rib Fest

KICK OFF THE SUMMER IN GRAND FASHION! Rib Fest will once again welcome thousands of guests for a weekend of BBQ, bands, and family fun in downtown Royal Oak. Rib Fest will showcase an unparalleled selection

of unique cuisine, food trucks, and BBQ – along with a selection of adult beverages. More than a dozen food vendors will be offering up mouthwatering fare that’s sure to please even the most discerning palate. With a list of bands as long as the food vendors, Michigan Rib Fest presents a carefully crafted entertainment lineup that’s fit for all ages. The event will feature some of the state and region’s most impressive local talent with a range of musical genres and styles performing all day that will please any crowd! Admission is free all weekend, with festivities running Thursday, July 4 – Sunday, July 7. ■


Story By: Ingrid Sjostrand
Photos By: Bernie Laframboise

HAVE YOU EVER ORDERED SUSHI AND HAD IT ARRIVE AT YOUR TABLE ON FIRE with literal blue flames rising from each roll as it’s placed in front of you?

It’s probably not your typical sushi experience, but it’s commonplace at Inyo Restaurant and Lounge, which is more than your typical sushi restaurant. Katie Pickhover, general manager, describes the menu – located at 22871 Woodward – as “Asian fusion.” And that flaming dish is the Dynamite Roll, their most popular item.

“It is the most-ordered and most-talked-about. The “Dynamite” specialty roll is salmon, crab, avocado, tempura fried and topped with a spicy cream sauce and roe served over fire,” Pickhover says. “We have quite a few table-side ‘wow’ items, sparking questions like ‘what is that?’ and ‘how can I get that?’”

Another one of those ‘wow’ dishes is the Beijing Duck, a three-course meal that can feed up to four and costs only $60.

“Some of our cooler items that aren’t as popular include a table-side Beijing duck: An entire duck comes out, they cut the breast table-side, and it includes two more courses, a choice of soup, lettuce wraps or pan-fried Asian noodles,” she says. “I wish more people ordered it; anything table-side is fun and can create an experience throughout the restaurant.”

THESE SPECIALTY DISHES are just part of what makes Inyo special. Opened in 2009 by Norman Acho and Executive Chef Kenny Wee, they wanted to create a unique concept using their knowledge of multiple international cuisines.

“Customers sometimes come in requesting traditional Chinese, Japanese and Korean but our version has Kenny’s new flair on it, which makes it different from other restaurants,” Pickhover says. “Most people like that, but if you are looking for traditional you probably won’t find it here.”

“Kenny has an extensive background in multiple Asian cuisines, creating Asian fusion was some-thing important and he puts his personal twist on everything,” she adds. “He has lived in Malaysia and Melbourne, Australia and takes a lot of inspiration from his childhood and places he grew up. His background and experience aren’t some-thing you’d find in other Asian restaurants.”

Inyo also prides itself on creating custom, seasonal cocktails and offering specials. Each weeknight, customers can come in for deals including half off appetizers on Mondays and more. Their cocktails are often Asian inspired and utilize traditional ingredients.

“We have the luxury of incorporating sake into our drinks and that is something you wouldn’t see if you weren’t at an Asian restaurant,” Pickhover says. “It allows us to create a lot of different flavors. We also try to change our drinks up for the seasons, creating something lighter for summer like the Malaysian butterfly, which was made of muddled cucumber, sake, vodka and elderflower.”

IN THE NINE YEARS SINCE OPENING, Inyo has watched the Ferndale community grow and expand, and they credit a lot of that to City Hall and their support of small businesses.

“The downtown community has been up and coming for so many years, it’s amazing to watch everything develop in this city,” Pickhover says. “Ferndale has a lot of community and the city is great at showing love to small businesses, that really helps with success here. We try to participate in the community as much as possible – through Pridefest, Small Business Saturday and other things.”

Inyo’s hours are 11:00 A.M. – 10:00 P.M. Sunday through Tuesday, 11:00 A.M. – 11:00 P.M. Wednesday through Friday, and 11:00 A.M. -Midnight on Saturdays. They also have a second location in West Bloomfield.

By Andrea G.
Photos By Bernie LaFramboise

THIS YEAR, HOWE’S BAYOU IS CELEBRAT­ING ITS 20TH YEAR OF CREOLE CUISINE ON WOODWARD A VENUE. The Ferndale classic is known for their New Orlean’s-inspired decor and menu. The restaurant offers a transportive experience, with each visit featuring rotating food specials and specialty cocktails.

As one of Ferndale’s longest operational restaurants on Woodward, the Howe’s Bayou family has watched Ferndale grow around them. Owner Michael Hennes has been running the restaurant since nearly the beginning, after taking over for the original owner a year and a half into operations. Although he was working at a nonprofit at the time, Hennes took an inspiring trip to New Orleans which helped make his decision to take on the restaurant. Hennes calls it a pleasure to be among Ferndale’s unique dining options and to watch the city blossom from within the heart
of it.

The restaurant has a low turn-over rate, with many employees spending years on the team delivering deliciousness. One employee in particular, Will Webb, has been with the restaurant since opening day, working as an integral part of the Howe’s Bayou kitchen. The low turn-over rate is a sign of a great place to work, but also a sign that the entire staff has combined their talents to create a family dynamic. The team effort of coming up with new treats and sustaining the welcoming atmosphere helps make Howe’s Bayou stand out amongst neighboring restaurants. The accommodating service is consistently cited as one of the highlights of visiting.

Howe’s Bayou focuses on famously New Orleans dishes – gumbo, jambalaya, catfish, po-boys, and don’t forget about the shrimp. Homemade lobster bisque is among the rotating selection of fresh seafood. Their incredible bar comes up with seasonal creative craft cocktails, especially focused on bourbons and ryes. Louisiana beers and boutique wines are also available to pair with the southern dishes.

The restaurant doesn’t have a specific date for an anniversary, so they will celebrate their 20th year of operation with events and specials throughout the rest of the year. Watch the restaurant’s web site, and their Facebook page for announcements of what is in the works. They are open for lunch and dinner and offer a happy hour Monday through Sunday from 4:00 to 6:00 P.M. As Michigan cools down into winter, you can always warm up at Howe’s Bayou.