Ferndale can mean a lot of different things to a lot of different
people. But one thing that stands out to most peeps who frequent or
live in Fashionable Ferndale is the Woodward Avenue Brewery, and Chris
Johnston’s little corner of fun. Johnston owns the W.A.B., the Loving
Touch next door, and the Emory across the street from the W.A.B. It’s a
bit of a monopoly, but after a few beers, you forget about it.
“People have watched us grow and evolve over time, and they feel
like they’ve been a part of our growth and the growth of the
neighborhood,” says Johnston. “We’ve been a constantly changing, and
they like that. They like remembering when we didn’t have booze or when
we didn’t have a patio. It shows them how far we’ve come.”
What customers don’t like remembering is the neighborhood before the WAB. Really, it was no neighborhood at all.
“It seemed very desolate,” recalls Johnston, who spent two years
renovating the building before it opened. “We did a lot of the
renovation work ourselves and spent most of our time inside. When we’d
come out for breaks you couldn’t tell whether it was 9 a.m., noon or 6
p.m. There were never any people around. It took years for that to
It took some pretty good beer, too. In the beginning, Johnston’s
brother, Grant, served as brewmaster and he created six flagship beers
that remain on the menu to this day.
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