Eat Comes to Kerrytown
With a testimonial from Joe O'Neal
by Micheline Maynard
From the December, 2020 issue
On a cold October Saturday, Kerrytown Market & Shops owner Joe O'Neal and his artist wife, Karen, traded their usual market-day spot in the center's courtyard for brunch at a tented table alongside the center's parking lot. "Best French toast on the planet," Joe declared emphatically. "And it's warm!" Karen added, pointing to the overhead heaters.
Their brunch was the handiwork of Blake Reetz, chef and co-owner of Eat. The heaters-and adjacent restaurant-were inherited from Phillis Engelbert's Lunch Room Diner & Canteen, which she folded into her nearby Detroit Street Filling Station early in the pandemic. (The Lunch Room Bakery & Café on Fuller continues.)
Eat and the Lunch Room share roots as food carts, and Reetz says that when Engelbert contacted him and co-owner Emilia Mauck about adding the Kerrytown location to their existing spot on Packard, they quickly said yes.
"We thought it was a good opportunity to reach a wider audience and be a little more visible," he says. "We're kind of off the beaten path on Packard."
While the original location has daily specials, Kerrytown has a regular menu, sorted into suppers, sandwiches, salads, sides, and sweets. But many of Reetz's simple yet sophisticated offerings can be found at both places. In October, a Packard special, chicken pumpkin mole tacos, was on the Kerrytown menu as a supper entrée.
One Packard favorite that didn't make the move is the Korean barbecue beef sandwich. "It didn't come because we're right next door to Miss Kim," Reetz says of his Kerrytown neighbor, which also began as a food cart. "Plus, it's nice for people at the different locations to have different things."
Brunch is exclusive to Kerrytown. Besides O'Neal's French toast, other comfort dishes include biscuits and gravy, quinoa and sweet potato hash, and hot cereal. There's also "eggs in a frame"-eggs cooked into a hole cut in bread-and a "Yankee breakfast"-a slice of apple pie with cheddar cheese on top. Reetz says Midwesterners aren't used
to eating pie that way, but "once they try it, they love it."
He says he loves cooking breakfast, but is a little disappointed that more guests aren't showing up for supper. "Things really die down around seven p.m.," he says. While the inside dining room is closed, the tented parking lot patio has four two-top tables, and there are also three picnic tables in the courtyard.
Front-of-the-house manager Audrey Septak says guests can order online, call in, or place an order in person at a walk-up window facing the courtyard. Curbside delivery is available upon request. If customers place a carryout order and then decide to stay and eat, they are welcome to use an open table.
With two places to manage, "I find myself running back and forth," Reetz says. "But Packard has been around so long that the systems are in place. The staff is holding it down" while Kerrytown gets up to speed.
Eat (Kerrytown location), 407 N. Fifth. (734) 369-6773. Tues.-Fri. 11 a.m.-9 p.m., Sat 7 a.m.-9 p.m., Sun 9 a.m.-2 p.m. Closed Mon. eatannarbor.com
[Originally published in December, 2020.]
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