Hip diner, Italian restaurant to open soon in Ferndale

Melody Baetens
The Detroit News

The folks behind the beer-centric restaurant One Eyed Betty’s are getting ready to open two new concepts in Ferndale: Pop’s for Italian, and the Daily Dinette.

Located at 280 W. Nine Mile in the former Buffalo Wild Wings, Pop’s for Italian will serve certified Neapolitan pizza and Italian dishes. In the back, the 24/7 Daily Dinette will serve burgers, fries, breakfast sandwiches and freshly made donuts from the counter and also through a window facing the large city parking lot.

Visually, both spaces are under the wing of well-known restaurant designer Ron Rea. The 10,000-square-foot space is more than half occupied by the 200-seat Italian restaurant, which has an open pizza kitchen and an outdoor dining area. The floors are made of reclaimed barn wood and the 26-foot ceilings have been sandblasted to show the natural wood.

In the back, Daily Dinette has a smaller space with baby pink tile, matching booths, and with touches of faux fur.

Daily Dinette will open first, as early as the first week of February. Depending on the necessary inspections and other routine hurdles, Pop’s for Italian is scheduled to open around the beginning of March.

Owner Brian Kramer says a lot of the inspiration for Pop’s for Italian comes from his grandparents, particularly his grandmother, who was born in Fano, Italy.

“(I want to) cook the food the way my nona told me how to cook food,” says Kramer, who, besides Betty’s, also owns Rosie O’Grady’s across from the new concepts, as well as Cantina Diablo and Red Fox English Pub, both in Royal Oak. “I think that the Italian we’re doing will be a first in Michigan.”

“We have a special fermentation room for dough, (we’ll be) making mozzarella from cheese curds, flying (employees) out to California to get certified to make Neapolitan pizza, which is a 200-year-old recipe.”

Kramer, vice president of operations Beth Hussey and executive chef Emmele Herrold have all been to Santa Monica to get certified in making true Neapolitan pizza. Hussey says Pop’s will be only the second restaurant in Michigan with certified Neapolitan pizza-makers.

Besides pizza and Italian dishes served on “big plates,” family-style, Pop’s will also have a huge focus on wine.

“I think we got in front of the craft beer (trend) with One Eyed Betty’s,” says Kramer. “Wine is the next thing coming. You can get all the wines by the taste, half glass, full glass.”

“Wine is the big message we want you to receive when you walk in the front door,” says Hussey. The 32-bottle wine preservation system they’ve invested will allow them to pour wine without the detrimental effects that opening a bottle has on the product.

“We have the ability to offer everything by the glass,” she says, adding that they’ll have wine flights and variety-specific glassware, seven types of wine glasses in all.

The diner will serve yeast-style and cake-style donuts, including the “cider mill” style, which are fried in a machine right at the counter.

Both restaurants have separate entrances accessible from Nine Mile and the city parking lot. This spring, look for the Pop’s for Italian sign on Nine Mile to bloom. Seeds have been planted inside to make a “living storefront.”