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Reclaimed Art, Beer Hall Feel, Oysters and Brews

Reclaimed Art, Beer Hall Feel, Oysters and Brews, One Eyed Betty’s Has it All

(Crystal A. Proxmire, The Ferndale 115 News, Feb. 15, 2012 ed.)

Forget everything you know about 175 W. Troy Street.  The old Rosie’s is gone.  Cantina Diablo’s is gone.  And with cool gray walls, DIA-exhibited reclaimed art, English pub style tables, 44 available beers, and a menu touting oysters, Sweaty Bettys, and bacon with a side of bacon, the newly opened One-Eyed Betty’s is nothing like Ferndale has seen before.

The concept has come together in just four weeks since Diablo’s closed.  Brian Kramer, owner of Rosie O’Grady’s and Cantina Diablo’s had grown frustrated with Diablo’s since opening another location in Downtown Royal Oak.  So when General Manager Beth Hussey made him an offer, he let her make the place her own.  Hussey now shares ownership of One-Eyed Betty’s with Kramer, but the concept, menu, beer selection and operations are all her creations.

The first thing Hussey did was get rid of the booths and the fiery décor “to give the place an open feel.”  The walls are now dark and cool, with the large back wall being a mural in progress.  This alone is a feature worthy of its own story.  From floor to ceiling this 17 x 12 foot  paint-by-numbers-style mural will be put together piece by piece by patrons of the pub, using multi-colored bottle caps.  Alongside the mural are buckets where caps will be sorted by color.  A punch press will help along the process so that customers aren’t endangering their fingers when putting up the pieces.

“It’s not about finishing the mural.  That could take years.  It’s about the interaction,” she said.  The mural and much of the beer bar’s interior is the creation of Hazel Park based sculptor and architectural fabrication specialist Richard Gage, and local artist Clinton Snider.

Gage pulled together many of One-Eyed Betty’s features, including the sturdy black tables and booths, the upside down pinball machine, the large chalkboards, the unique signage, and of course the mural.  Snider is the artist behind the box-themed art found installed throughout the rugged, yet cozy, space.  There are 18 pieces in total, which were all part of a large exhibit that was at the Detroit Institute of Arts called Relics, installed in 2001.  The boxed art is made up of relics from around the city of Detroit.  Hanging on the walls of One-Eyed Betty’s, they add to the character of the establishment.

And speaking of character, some might wonder if Hussey is the inspiration for the beer bar’s name and quirky-looking mascot.  “Not really,” Hussey said.  “Her name is Betty and mine is Beth, so I suppose it’s kind of close.  But really I came up with the idea to make it named after this character so people can kind of make up their own stories about who she is.”

The logo was designed by Ferndale-based graphic designer Christopher Gorski of Detroit GT, and Hussey said she’s partnering with 8 Degrees Plato as well to make sure the new craft beer store will have the same fine beers that can be had at One Eyed Betty’s.  “It’s important that we work with other local businesses,” Hussey said.  She’s taken care to make sure that 22 of the 44 beers available are Michigan-brewed.  The bread is also made nearby, by Avalon Bakery.

The selection of craft beer is phenomenal, as is the menu accompanying it.  The big thing at One Eyed Betty’s is the oysters.  Brought in fresh every day, severed several different ways and competitively priced, Hussey says they are the perfect accompaniment to beer.  There are also other spicy and sweet selections to compliment the beer, including bacon with a side of bacon and a blend of sausages and peppers called the Sweaty Betty.

“We’ve got a lot of food that traditionally goes well with beer, or food that is made with beer.  Oysters really help bring out the taste of the beer, and they are fun to eat.  People can sit around, sipping their beer and slurping oysters, and it’s a good time for everyone.”

The beer is Hussey’s favorite part, and the focal point of  One Eyed Betty’s. Hussey grew up in Clarkston where her family owned a restaurant.  She also has managed restaurants most of her life.  After working in Grand Rapids for a craft beer establishment, she is convinced of the importance of a good craft beer selection.  “Craft beer is huge on the West side of the state,” she said.  “Michigan is fifth in consumption of craft beer, but Oakland County is really lacking in places that cater to it.  I hope people will come here and gain an appreciation.”

To help develop palates of their Ferndale guests, One Eyed Bettys offers a Beer Back.  This is a row of sample-sized beer glasses, arranged on a special serving tray with the names of the beer written on them so guests can know what they’re tasting.  Hussey also plans on offering a Beer College, and the Friends of Betty Club – a social group for women that involves good times at the bar as well as field trips elsewhere, like bowling or to other bars and beer tastings.

All the unique features combine to make One-Eyed Betty’s more than just another bar.  “We wanted to create things that get people talking,” said Gage.  “There really is no story behind One-Eyed Betty’s, just all these little details that hint that a story may be there.  We want to make sure there are things people will notice and wonder about.  What kind of person is One-Eyed Betty?”

Hussey herself is a pure Ferndale fit.  She’s lived in Ferndale for the past 18 years, and for the past 15 she’s been joined with her partner Jennette Breault, who also works in the restaurant business.  Though Breault has been “the first lady” of the restoration of the building and one of the tasters of new menu items, Breault will soon be back busy helping Kramer open a rooftop restaurant in Royal Oak, leaving Hussey and her staff to keep the Ferndale customers happy.

“She was running a restaurant in Detroit and I was a server there, that’s how we met,” Breault said.  “More than anything I am so proud of her. She’s got something special.

The wide-open layout, large communal tables, interactive décor, well-stocked bar, and friendly, beer-experienced staff, make One Eyed Betty’s a comfortable spot for any guest.  Find out more by following them on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/pages/One-Eyed-Bettys/211496528943073.

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