A new culinary team is launching a project in Ferndale. Stockyard chef Marc Bogoff and restaurateur Eli Boyer tell Eater they're opening a new seafood concept in Ferndale this year. Located on the city's east side, the 1,400-square-foot eatery will seat 40 people and feature a raw bar program with oysters and other seasonal fish and shellfish. "We can get the freshest of shellfish here in Metro Detroit," Boyer says, "and we think that there's a taste for that."
"Our staff will be armed with the knowledge and expertise to talk about oysters for days."
Boyer returned to Metro Detroit in 2013 after honing his skills with Chicago restaurant group DMK. He eventually struck a partnership to help open Gold Cash Gold. Boyer left the Corktown eatery several months after the opening in order to pursue more chef-driven, hyper-focused restaurant projects in the area. He reached out to Bogoff, who had a strong reputation through the Stockyard food truck and supper club. The pair clicked over their shared vision for bringing more chef-driven experiences to Metro Detroit and love of design. "We didn't really have an idea for the first project per se when we started talking," Bogoff recalls. "It was just a creative gathering."
Bogoff and Boyer say they explored a number of spaces in Detroit and the suburbs and found a space that spoke to them on West Nine Mile. "When we walked in we were immediately like, 'Oh this needs to be an oyster bar,'" Boyer says. Around the same time, Ferndale began limiting access to liquor licenses in the downtown corridor, citing limited parking access and the partners chose to forgo the location but stick with the raw bar concept.
They eventually selected a small garage unit just off Nine Mile, which provided more space and had the advantage of a parking lot. Bogoff and Boyer received site plan approval for the as-of-yet unnamed project last Wednesday and hope to secure building permits immediately. The pair describe the still evolving design as casual with banquette seating and a centrally located raw bar. "Even though it's a very small area, it's a focal point that adds an aesthetic to the whole space," Bogoff says of the raw bar element.
Both Bogoff and Boyer are interested in veering away from common seafood preparations like fried filets but they're conscious of the need to make their menu approachable for diners. "We want to make people feel comfortable, so our staff will be armed with the knowledge and expertise to talk about oysters for days," Boyer says. In addition to seafood, diners can expect "thoughtful vegetable dishes" and a bar program featuring a selection of "bright, wheaty beers," rosés, and a brief list of "good value" cocktails. The restaurant will initially open for happy hour and dinner, but will eventually expand into lunch and brunch service.
The seafood restaurant is expected to debut by early fall, but that isn't the only project Boyer and Bogoff are plotting. The Stockyard owner says he's very interested in developing a brick-and-mortar location for his popular food truck, which is limited by Michigan's long winters. Boyer adds, "We've got some other stuff in the works. Maybe in Detroit next."