Ferndale's Otus Supply returns with new menu, outdoor music
Music venue, bourbon bar and restaurant Otus Supply in Ferndale has reopened with a new food menu, expanded outdoor seating, and soon, live music.
Opened in late 2016, the award-winning restaurant was known for a chef-driven menu, a space for live bands, craft cocktails, multiple dining rooms and a unique, artful ambiance that has a bit of a Hogwarts vibe. It's been closed since the pandemic started and has re-emerged with an enclosed tented area with a stage and seating for 50.
That is in addition to a patio that seats around 35 and another open-air area through roll-up, garage-style doors. Part of the interior dining room will be used on an as-needed basis. Besides additional outdoor dining, other signs-of-the-times are strategically placed hand sanitizer dispenser, asking guests to pay with a debit or credit card instead of cash and limiting groups to tables of six or less.
"It's been rough, it's been real rough ... but we eked it out," owner Thom Bloom said of being closed for months. "COVID was both a disaster and kind of an opportunity to revisit what our place is in the community. From the start we wanted to be a come-one, come-all place that provided great music, great food and friendly atmosphere."
He said he thought the restaurant was too big for the level of specialization they were shooting for in the past. So this time around he and partner Scott Myrick wanted to be more accessible and family-centric and tied into the music demographic, Bloom said.
"That doesn't mean cheapened or getting away from believing in great food and from-scratch preparation ... there's something for everybody I think and we made it fun, whimsical and accessible."
The bar program has been updated to help get craft cocktails to the tables faster. The new drink menu has boozy ice pops, alcoholic slushies, beer, wine and a separate list for higher-end spirits like bourbon, Scotch, Japanese whiskey, cognac, mezcal and more.
The new, music-themed food menu has a noticeably lower price point than previous incarnations of Otus Supply. Most menu items — shareable appetizers, salads, burgers, wood-fired pizza and sandwiches — top out at $14. There is an entree list where folks can splurge on a rib-eye for $42 or salmon filet for $24, for example. There's also a kids' menu with five options for $6 each.
Executive chef Christopher Chicollo pointed to the spicy-battered fried chicken sandwich with house-made pimento cheese, named the Funky Chicken, as one of the highlights of the new offerings.
Another house favorite, and one of the few dishes that isn't named after a rock song or uses a music pun, is the whitefish BLT. Bloom said that was kept on the menu as an homage to their previous head chef Jason Osburn, who died unexpectedly in February. He was at Otus for a short time, but was known in both the local restaurant and music communities, making him a natural fit for a business like this.
The past 12 months have been tough for Otus Supply. In addition to Osburn's death, Otus Supply ran into some financial problems last fall. After that, Bloom said they wanted to shore things up and brought Osburn on board to "kind of bring it back to life, and we were really excited about what he was doing." Then he died just a month before the pandemic shut down dining rooms across the country.
Now, Bloom says he just wants to be positive and turn over a new leaf.
"We really want to get back to being a fun, spirited place ... we're excited to get back to the roots," said Bloom, adding they want to more events with the community and schools. "We have kids that work at Ferndale High here, chef's got kind of a little mentoring program for some young kids."
Later this month, Bloom said music fans can expect to see bookings in the outdoor tent, including local bluegrass, jam bands and eclectic acts such as Latin-soul-folk artist Marbisa, who is set to perform Sept. 19. He said a schedule of acts will be posted soon, and he hopes to host free live entertainment in this tent through Halloween.
The Parliament Room, which is where Otus Supply used to host small concerts from local and national acts, is not open to the public again yet, but it has been hosting online live streams from the stage there. Bloom says he hopes to have those streams viewable in the tent in the future.
Otus Supply, 345 E. Nine Mile in Ferndale, is now open 4-11 p.m. Wed.-Thurs. and 4 p.m.-midnight Fri.-Sat. Reservations and walk-ins welcome. Call (248) 291-6160 or visit otussupply.com.