Multiflavored wings on Packard
From the April, 2021 issue
Jordan Balduf is used to people asking, "What did this place used to be?" about his new spot at the corner of Packard and Woodlawn.
He keeps a sheet handy in the top drawer with a long list. Previous occupants include the Milk Depot, Lucky Jim's Fish & Chips, Bev's Caribbean Kitchen, Wise Guys, and most recently, PoCai, which served poke and acai bowls.
But on March 13, the corner became his own. Balduf officially opened Side Biscuit, slinging chicken wings and biscuits to the eager fan base that he has accumulated via social media and through pop-ups around the area. Those guest cooking appearances were so successful, Balduf says, he earned $20,000 before even opening his doors--enough to cover his expected start-up costs.
He had hoped to start serving last September but got into a signage dispute with the city over the murals that sweep across the front and sides of the building, now painted blue.
While waiting to open, Side Biscuit made multiple guest appearances at York Yard, which has become an incubator for fledgling food entrepreneurs around Ann Arbor, including dumpling maker Basil Babe and oyster truck Juicy Oistre (Marketplace Changes, February).
He also sold his wings at Cultivate Coffee & Taphouse in Ypsilanti, whose owner, Sara Demorest, is his business partner.
Side Biscuit's wings are an homage to Balduf's native Buffalo, where he worked in his godmother's pizzeria as a boy. He attended high school in Kalamazoo, graduated with a business degree from EMU, and worked in a number of Zingerman's outlets.
He offers nine different versions of wings, some with comical names that riff off the flavor that's spread on top. OG Buffalo--urban shorthand for "original 'gangster"--is a classic Buffalo wing. "Brogarashi" is his version of Japan's togarashi 'seven-spice blend, while You're A Jerk is inspired by the Jamaican seasoning. The peppery Raindrop Tamchop honors one of his suppliers, Dexter artist Tammie Gilfoyle of Tamchop Farm. The menu board adds shout-outs to other local
sources, including Cultivate, the Brinery, Guernsey Dairy, and Argus Farm Stop, which has a shop a few steps away.
Wings start at $12 for a six-piece "plate" and range up to $65 for a fifty-wing bucket. Vegans and vegetarians are accommodated with "tempeh fingers." Biscuits run $4 and will come in revolving flavors--the opening style was black sesame with "brogarashi" butter.
There are two salads for $9 each--'Kaesar, his version of a Caesar, and a wedge salad. Pork rinds cost $5.
Balduf's production capacity is limited to four cases of wings daily, or about 800 pounds. Like Ricewood BBQ, which also got its start in York Yard before moving inside York, Balduf says he'll simply stop taking orders when he's out of food.
The lack of indoor seating doesn't deter him. "This felt like a safe option," Balduf says. "Wings are a great takeout food."
Until the weather warms up, Side Biscuit is carryout only, with eight tables for two available on the sidewalk. Thus far, Balduf hasn't signed up with delivery services. He expects neighbors, Michigan students, and his loyal pop-up fans will be his main customer base.
If the lines down the block for his opening week events were any indication, lots of people are waiting to sample those wings.
Side Biscuit, 1232 Packard St., (734) 531-6777, Wed. & Thurs. 4-10 p.m., Fri. & Sat. 4-11 p.m., Sun. 1-7 p.m. Closed Mon. & Tues. 'sidebiscuit.com
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