Barbecue didn’t work, coffee didn’t work, salads didn’t work, delivery pizza didn’t work. These are just a few of the failed restaurant states of 640 Packard. The most recent departed restaurant at the intersection of State and Packard, Happy’s Pizza, lasted a little over a year. When it opened in April 2016, the owners hoped that by emphasizing delivery it could surmount whatever curse seemed to be on the address as an eat-in spot (Happy’s Pizza’s name to the contrary, it’s actually famous for delivering much more, like chicken and ribs).
Now Happy’s has been replaced by Craft Breww City. Asked what the second “w” is doing there, manager Ryk Nordell says, “I’ve been asked that many times, and I’ve come up with a good solution for my brain”–meaning he kind of made it up, but it works for him. “It means we’re not a brewery; we don’t make our own brew. We sell craft beers of Michigan.” There are twenty-four on tap and about 100 in bottles. (The place is serious but not obsessive about promoting the state’s craft industry–about 90 percent of the beers are from Michigan, and the rest are mostly from neighboring states.)
Nordell previously worked at the first CBC, which opened in Farmington Hills in 2015. He says the owners hope to open more of them. And what will make CBC succeed at this spot where Happy’s ran aground? “What we want to do is blend in with not only the college crowd but townies, as they call them here. From what we’ve heard, other places in this spot haven’t cared about the clientele. We lead with our hearts. We want to be a part of the neighborhood.” Nordell looks like he belongs in the neighborhood, with his beard, chunky nerd glasses, multi-pierced ears, and Detroit Tigers cap.
The menu is hearty bar food: burgers, wraps, sandwiches, pastas, nachos, and Detroit-style pizza–“one of the perks we got from Happy’s is they left us a big pizza oven.” Detroit’s newly acquired industrial chic has made Detroit pizza a thing–it’s become a rival of Chicago’s or New York’s. Buddy’s is usually held up as the exemplar of the breed–Detroit-style pizza is square with a thick crust, and the sauce on top. And while CBC’s menu categories are classic ones, some of the items push the envelope. Under the burger category is a “peanut butter and Sriracha burger,” and there’s a “hangover sandwich” filled with fried eggs, bacon, cheddar, tomato chipotle aioli, and tater tots.
Craft Breww City is owned by Joe Affeldt, along with a silent partner, and it’s not entirely unrelated to Happy’s Pizza. Nordell can’t exactly explain the relationship but acknowledges there is a distant one. The name that shows up on a lot of the corporate documents relating to both Happy’s Pizza and Craft Breww City is Paul Miller, the attorney who represented Happy Asker in his 2015 conviction for tax evasion.
Craft Breww City, 640 Packard, 585-0165. Mon.-Thurs. 11 a.m.-midnight, Fri. & Sat. 11 a.m.-2 a.m., Sun. 11 a.m.-11 p.m.