Ferndale/Pleasant Ridge City Guide 2021

By Ingrid Sjostrand
Photos ©2021 David McNair

FERNDALE IS A GREAT PLACE TO GRAB SOME GRUB. This past year, however, has been a challenge for many bar and restaurant owners, who have had to withstand a whirlwind of closing, reopening, and putting new restrictions into place. Here’s how a few of your favorites are enduring the ups-and-downs.

Danny’s Irish Pub: A Retro Flare & Affordable Fare

DANNY’S IRISH PUB, 22824 WOODWARD AVE., has been a staple of Ferndale for years. It features an old-school atmosphere with a jukebox, pinball machines, and darts. Danny’s is the perfect place to grab a drink and enjoy inexpensive bar must-haves like burgers and chips.

Owner Dan Reedy has been forced to roll with the punches during the pandemic.

“We have been very lucky,” he said. “Like everyone else, we were closed for the first three months. We received the first PPP money during that time to keep our payroll, rent, and utilities paid. After the first month we did a little carryout.”

As the landscape changed, so, too, did his plan. Reedy explains, “When the Governor allowed us, we reopened on a limited basis with all of the proper restrictions. When the Governor shut us down again, we did outside service. With the weather getting very cold, it was a relief when we could open up inside at 25 percent. Now we’re up to 50 percent and it’s great.”

Reedy credits the community’s support, saying, “We are very thankful to all of the people who supported us through the worst times.”

For more information on capacity requirements or to place an order, call 248.546.8331.

Detroit Fleat: The Delicious Place to Eat from the Street

AFTER SUCCESSFULLY LAUNCHING AND RUNNING THEIR OWN FOOD TRUCK, Detroit Fleat owners Katie Picard and Aaron Tye wanted to create a place for the food truck community to gather. In 2017, that vision came to life. Detroit Fleat opened its doors at 1820 E. Nine Mile Rd. with ample space for trucks to visit and guests to enjoy a unique, open venue.

“Detroit Fleat is proud to be the first-and-only food truck park in Metro Detroit,” said Brooke Zadorsky, Marketing Manager, adding that Ferndale has proven to be the perfect spot. “Being a part of such a vibrant city inspires us to be creative, to be good neighbors, and to continually strive to improve.”

During the summer months, the Fleat offers a space to feature the best food trucks in the area on its huge patio, alongside a year-round delicious, street food-inspired menu. And a bonus to dining outside? The space is dog-friendly. “We love seeing all of our furry friends and their humans,” Zadorsky said.

Guests can also grab cocktails, choose from a lineup of 16 craft beers, or order the Fleat’s famous frozen, boozy Slooshies at its full bar.

“FOOD TRUCK SEASON OFFICIALLY KICKED OFF MAY 1, 2021,” Zadorsky said, adding, “From the beginning of the pandemic, we’ve taken our responsibility to keep our staff and guests as safe as possible seriously. Almost every aspect of the way we do business has adapted to ensure we are at the forefront of safe COVID practices.”

Some of the changes include implementing a walk-up counter to maintain social distancing, installing an advanced surface and air purification system directly through the Fleat’s HVAC, and placing air purifiers with HEPA filters throughout the dining room. All staff members are completing temperature checks, wearing masks, and sanitizing frequently.

“We will continue to provide the safest atmosphere we can for our guests and staff,” Zadorsky explained, and she thanks the patrons for their help. “Our community is amazing! We have been so humbled by the support through the year. Whether it’s ordering curbside pickup, engaging with us on social media or visiting us for a safe spot to enjoy food and drinks, we are so grateful for all the ways our friends, family, and neighbors have shown us love.”

Those dining in-person will soon be able to enjoy a new feature. Zadorsky announced, “Fleat is excited to roll into our fourth season with a new addition to the patio. Look for our own house trailer that guests can visit for boozy popsicles, ice cream treats, and canned cocktails. We are always striving to improve upon our business year after year and this new facet is sure to be a hit with our guests.”

For more information, visit detroitfleat.com or call 248.607.7611

Get Great Food at Got Pho

GOT PHO, 172 W. NINE MILE RD., is an Asian Fusion restaurant with an array of Tai, Vietnamese, and Chinese dishes launched by Thomas and Nancy Singh. The restaurant also offers many vegan and gluten-free options.

“We understand the different dietary needs our customers may have, so we try to accommodate as much as we can,” said Nancy Singh. “Ferndale already had a great array of dining options, but pho was the only thing missing. We are passionate about food and wanted to expand the food scene in Ferndale – therefore, Got Pho was born.”

Their vision was brought to life in the middle of the pandemic.

“We had many challenges trying to get open on time, but we finally opened our doors June 1, 2020,” she explained. “We quickly adjusted by providing delivery services, so Got Pho partnered up with Grub Hub and Door Dash as a contact-free convenience to our customers.”

And, thankfully, Ferndale came through to help. “The community has been very supportive since we’ve opened,” Singh said. “Our customers are the reason why we have made it through the toughest times of this pandemic. We still have to remain vigilant and follow health guidelines to ensure safety for every citizen.”

Now, Got Pho is just waiting for when it’s safe enough to resume business normally. “We can’t wait to participate in upcoming community events!” she exclaimed. “Ferndale has the best customers around by far. The diverse community is what makes it so unique and so special. So Got Pho is proud to call Ferndale home.”

For more information or to place an order, visit gotphoferndale.com or call 248.780.1164.

New Way Bar: A New Spin on an Old Tradition

NEW WAY BAR, 23130 WOODWARD AVE., originally opened in 1935, and current owner Jamie D’Angelo bought the well-known hot-spot in 2013. The bar offers live music, comedy shows, and games such as skee-ball, ping pong, pool, and darts. It also offers open-mike nights and themed events and is home to the Ferndale-famous game ‘Down the Clown.’

A community center of sorts, many local musicians and artists call New Way their ‘second home,’ and all featured talent keep 100 percent of their earnings. The laid-back, old-fashioned vibe also means all guests are treated like family.

“The past year has presented a lot of challenges and opportunities,” D’Angelo explained. “We do not have any events scheduled at this time due to the uncertainty of occupancy restrictions.”

However, the pandemic has offered an opportunity to update the interior and get to know those who helped along the way.

“We have taken the reduced occupancy requirements as an opportunity to get to know our customers better,” he said. “We also had the chance to replace some equipment, carpet, and refresh the paint. We have been so lucky because the community has been very encouraging and supportive. Our re-openings have been well received and business remains as solid as it can be, all things considered. We also have a great group of regulars that really make the place special. The staff are invested and truly enjoy serving our neighbors and the community at large.”

For more information or to place an order, visit newwaybar.com or call 248.541.9870.

By Mary Meldrum
Photos ©2021 Parks & Recreation Staff

LAREINA WHEELER is the Director of Ferndale Parks & Recreation. She is an energetic and enthusiastic leader in the City’s very busy department. There are only four full-time and two part-time people working in the Recreation Department.

WHEELER’S DEPARTMENT IS THE LEAD FOR THE PLANNING, DESIGN AND DEVELOPMENT of the city’s parks. They provide programming for all ages as well as a very robust sports program: Softball, kickball, soccer, baseball and basketball.

The Department also coordinates the city’s special events, such as the Fall Festival, the Fitness Festival, the Daddy-Daughter Dance, and other events that serve the community. The city’s Breakfast With Santa Around The World is a look at how people celebrate Christmas in different countries.

“We typically do a craft class that makes an ornament specific to the country that we are sponsoring that year. We try to do things a little differently,” Wheeler indicates.

Ferndale offers a SMART transportation program that shuttles residents from their homes to a destination within a five-mile radius of Ferndale.

Ferndale has 14 parks, and the Parks & Recreation Department has made major improvements including new play equipment, walking paths, and water fountains. The parks have been very well-maintained. Projects now include new walking paths as well as a pavilion and outdoor fitness equipment. New benches and trash receptacles are part of the improvements too.

Many of the improvements were made possible by a 2015 bond passed by the residents, including the installation of a splash pad. The community is very excited about that.

“This past year, we completed a park project downtown, Schiffer Park. We extended the park, installed custom planter boxes with seating, decorative paving, a drinking fountain and open grassy areas. We formalized and made it an official downtown park. There are custom planter boxes and seating and it is a beautiful asset to downtown.”

“SINCE COVID, WE HAVE REVAMPED A LOT OF THINGS. We offered free meals in conjunction with YMCA, Gleaners and our ongoing Meals On Wheels program. In addition, we worked with several grant partners, such as Project Play, to give out weekly sports kits. We utilized our partnerships to provide a different sport themed kit every week. The kits were sponsored by organizations like the Detroit Pistons and Red Wings. Some of the sport kits included hockey and soccer equipment.”

Wheeler went on, “We continued to have a presence online last year and we served the community the best we could under the circumstances. As we open up again, we are opening up outside. We have soccer starting this spring. Adult and girls’ softball and baseball and kickball will start again too.”

“Our Ferndale Daddy-Daughter Dance is usually held in the Winter. This year we are having a Daddy-Daughter Movie and drive-in. We plan to have some activities at the drive-in. We will have the COVID precautions in place.” There is a drive-in movie scheduled for the other kids on the same day.

The outdoor fitness festival will be in July, an opportunity for the community to come and exercise outdoors. “We collaborate with various gyms and health professionals who offer different fitness classes for youth and adults and provide health tips and information.

“In addition, our largest event is our Ferndale Fall Festival. We plan to still hold that October 2. We want to make sure we are doing everything safely. We always do safety checks. We are very excited about servicing the community, offering a little more this year and allowing the community to get out safely.”

WHEELER SHARES THAT SENIORS HAVE BEEN THE MOST AFFECTED BY THE ISOLATION and COVID. “We look forward to helping them overcome their isolation and get out-and-about.”

In 2019, Ferndale built an award-winning skate park, one of the most utilized parks in the city. You can see all abilities and ages in that park; children from three to four-years-old, all the way up to 55 or 60-years-old.

Wheeler has enjoyed four years as Director. She started in March of 2017. LaReina’s favorite part of the job is serving the community and giving them something they want and will utilize. “Knowing that I am working on something that will be successful. Projects are in line with what the community wants and I am bringing joy to the residents and youth.”

Wheeler says her Department always puts the community and the community’s needs first. “We make sure that we strive to make sure that our efforts are planned in an equitable and inclusive manner so nobody is excluded and everyone feels welcome when they participate. We work very hard. We have a great team and we share the same vision for the residents. We want to continue on our upward trend.”

By Ingrid Sjostrand
Photos ©2019 Levegniia Andrusiak

(Pub. Note: Photos are pre-Covid-19. Everyone has been safely masked at Ferndale Schools.)

On March 10th, 2020, voters approved a three-series, $125 million bond to make a significant investment in our educational system. Due to rising property values and expiring debt, this bond was made possible at no tax rate increase to our community.

The bond will allow Ferndale Schools to re-imagine our learning environments to fit the modern educational environment. The classroom structure has changed much and, as the pace of change accelerates, schools are reimagining the spaces where our students learn. These new flexible and adaptable spaces will allow us to build programming which prepares students for a future we cannot yet imagine.

Beyond gaining new educational capacities for our students, this bond will also keep our schools warm, dry, and safe. Energy efficiency and ensuring our students are “warm and dry” inside of their schools isn’t exciting, it’s expected. Upcoming repairs and infrastructure improvements will benefit the long term sustainability of our district. This includes expensive items like roofs and boilers. This new funding stream will safeguard our community’s investment into our facilities.

Ferndale Early Childhood Center

The FECC will add a secured entry vestibule during Phase One of the Bond. In later phases toilet rooms will be added on to each classroom, along with new furniture. The gym and playground spaces will also be redone.

Ferndale Lower Elementary

Perhaps the biggest change this bond will bring to Ferndale Schools will be the construction of a new Lower Elementary school. Our elementary schools are nationally recognized for applying the Whole Child philosophy to support our students with community partnerships, family-involvement, and a supportive school culture. However, our educators are limited by century-old facilities, aging infrastructure, and limited space. To build on this momentum and more fully integrate our forward-thinking education philosophy, we are constructing a new Lower Elementary facility with adaptable learning environments, exceptional energy and security integration, and room to accommodate the newly-established growth trends we are experiencing. This new facility would be built on the site of the Jackson Building, currently the home of Center for Advanced Studies & the Arts (CASA).

Ferndale Upper Elementary

FUEL will also see significant improvements including a new roof, secure entryways, and other facility upgrades. As part of Phase Three, an addition to the current building is also planned to make room for growth and integrate additional modern learning tools.

Ferndale High School & Ferndale Middle School

The largest portion of the bond revenue is being invested into the Ferndale High School & Middle School campus. The compound on Pinecrest will see improvements throughout all three phases of the bond, touching all areas of the facility: safety; classrooms; arts spaces; athletic fields; as well as building-wide infrastructure like roofing, heating, cooling, and more. Starting this summer the FHS pool area will be reconfigured and renovated to remove one of the pools and replace it with a new fitness center and team meeting rooms.

University High School

With the 2012 transition to the Coolidge Building – the newest in the District – UHS is securely warm, dry and safe. Some small changes to improve school identity and general tech are planned up–front. As part of Phases 2 and 3, some site expansion and a parking lot reconstruction will take place.

Tri-County Education Center

The TCEC, currently residing in the Grant Building, will see their improvements begin during Phase 1 of the bond. Due to the age of the facility improvements will be focused on renovating the exterior of the building along with interior work on the HVAC and electrical systems.

Beyond the 2020 Bond Ferndale Schools also recently adopted a new, equity based strategic plan which will run from 2020-2025.

Equity Vision Statement:

At Ferndale Public Schools, we are a school family of continual learners. We support each and every student to develop their purpose, plan, and passion. We encourage and honor dialogue about the histories, cultures, and goals of our communities. We actively and intentionally facilitate equitable access and representation, meaningful participation, and high expectations for all.

• To learn more about the 2020 Bond and all of the changes coming to Ferndale Schools, visit www.ferndaleforward.com

• To learn more about the new strategic plan visit: www.ferndaleschools.org/district/about/strategic-plan