The team behind the project stated during a July 21 Planning Commission meeting their intent to build destination restaurants at the site that formerly held Rosie O’Grady’s. Seen here is a rendering of what the space could look like, though a final site plan still needs to be submitted for administrative staff review.

The team behind the project stated during a July 21 Planning Commission meeting their intent to build destination restaurants at the site that formerly held Rosie O’Grady’s. Seen here is a rendering of what the space could look like, though a final site plan still needs to be submitted for administrative staff review.

Rendering provided by the city of Ferndale

Former Rosie O’Grady’s to turn into ‘destination’ restaurants

second floor to hold apartments

By: Mike Koury | Woodward Talk | Published August 24, 2021


FERNDALE — The building that formerly housed Rosie O’Grady’s will undergo major reconstruction and changes in the near future.

At a city of Ferndale Planning Commission meeting July 21, the commission unanimously approved a site plan application for 279 W. Nine Mile Road to convert the former Rosie O’Grady’s into a mixed-use space with two restaurants and apartment units.

Rosie O’Grady’s closed June 27, citing staffing-level issues as the reason. During the July 21 meeting, Brian Kramer, of Kramer Restaurant Group, which owned Rosie’s and also owns restaurants such as One-Eyed Betty’s, Pop’s for Italian, Antihero and Public House, spoke about his desire to improve the Nine Mile and Allen roads location.

“I’ve been in Ferndale for 25 years as an investor. … I’ve personally been in Ferndale for 25 years,” he said. “Rosie O’Grady’s has been open for 13 years at that location and it’s just time to make an improvement in that site, and we are making an improvement, and I’m building something that I would be proud of, my family would be proud of and the residents should be proud of.”

According to the city, the proposed site plan for the building contains 13,726 square feet, 3,548 of which is designated as space for two restaurants. There also could be 1,355 square feet of office space as well, though City Planner Justin Lyons stated in an email that the property owner, Kramer, did request flexibility for that area to be converted into restaurant space if they desire.

“The project has always consisted of getting rid of Rosie’s, creating a very new, important restaurant to replace it, and then utilizing the rest of the building in ways that can benefit from the operation of the proposed new restaurant,” said the project’s architect, Roman Bonislawski, of Ron and Roman, during the meeting.

The bottom floor of the building will hold two restaurants, the first of which will be called Atlantic and Pacific, or A&P, that is aimed to be the anchor of the new space and be a “destination” seafood restaurant. The floor plan displays different dining areas, including a main room that seats 58 people, a bar dining area that seats 30, and an oyster dining area that seats 28. There also are 19 seats at the main bar and 12 seats at a separate oyster bar.

The second restaurant would be a Mexican barbecue spot called T-Mex. The restaurant features a porch dining area that seats 32 people, a main dining area that seats 36, a bar dining area that seats 26, and the bar that seats 15.

“A&P, Atlantic and Pacific, is still for us the heart of this project, and it’s a brand-new seafood restaurant that’s gonna be spectacular and a category killer right here in Ferndale in the heart of town,” Bonislawski said. “We’ve also maintained our goal of being able to provide a couple of food offerings in the city that we think are very important. Brian has studied for two or more years … this whole aspect of a great smoke and barbecue component, which could be incorporated into the little Mexican concept that’s in front.”

Kramer stated the biggest aspect of the new restaurant space is how it seats fewer people than Rosie’s held before.

“It’s almost 200 seats and I know you might think, ‘Brian, how do you add on to this thing and get less seats?’” he said. “Well, each restaurant requires kitchens, bathrooms, walk-in coolers. So your average restaurant is 60% front of the house, 40% back of the house. So by adding the two restaurants with the prep area — I’m going to need to do fresh seafood at Atlantic and Pacific, it has a beautiful oyster bar, we grow oysters on-site — it will be a destination restaurant, and with destination restaurants, people will come to downtown Ferndale, parking revenues go up, property values go up, people want to be where the hot downtowns are.”

The apartment units that will be built on the second floor will complete the mixed-use element of the building. There will be 11 residential units: three two-bedroom units and eight one-bedroom units.

In addition to the apartments, the building will have outdoor patio balconies built on the exterior of the space and four courtyard patios directly in the middle.

While speaking on the apartments, Kramer, apparently responding to Facebook comments about the units and their layout, stated there was nothing about the project that “resembles a prison” and that he would live in one of the four inner apartment units.

“It’s the hot trend where you have square buildings like this because not every unit can have an outdoor window that they now are building these atriums inside the units,” he said. “When you walk into this unit and you’re just drawn into this outside with these living walls of green, hot tubs, barbecue places, fireplaces in your patio … it’s wild.”

Kramer added that he put a lot of thought into the balcony portion of the apartments because he thinks it’s a feature that isn’t often used for other residential buildings.

“You can drive around most apartments and rarely see people on the balconies,” he said. “We’re sprinkling these balconies … and (they) give it a real feel like when we’re having Pride or a downtown festival or just a Saturday afternoon, that activity like, ‘Oh my god, that’s the place to be.’”

Councilman Greg Pawlica, the liaison to the Planning Commission, voted for the site plan, stating that it fit in with Ferndale’s master plan to have more than just one-story buildings on Nine Mile and Woodward.

“It increases the density in the downtown,” he told the Woodward Talk. “In this instance, it offers additional residential. It aligns with the design and the character that we’re pursuing for our downtown.”

While he believes the project at 279 W. Nine Mile Road is a great one, Pawlica shared that his only concern about the space was the second-story use as apartments.

He elaborated that the mix of bars and restaurants on the first floor and apartments on the second might cause a lot of turnover in the number of people who want to live there, as many might not want to live above a bar/restaurant.

“I think a great use for that space would’ve been a banquet facility,” he said. “You have a restaurant downstairs that could serve people upstairs at a banquet facility, or office space. We don’t have class A office space in the downtown area, but Brian Kramer believes that having residential above is gonna be much easier for him to manage.”

Lyons said in an email that the applicant still has to submit a final site plan for administrative staff review.