Community Conversations: Ferndale Project


Welcome to Community Conversations: Ferndale Project! Jim Shaffer sits down to talk with Bartscht, owner of Ferndale Project in Ferndale!

The Ferndale Project, “a space for provisionaries”, is born from Dayne Bartscht’s Eastern Market Brewing Co. in Detroit which opened back in 2017 and saw a ton of success. So much in fact that they soon were running out of brewing capacity and looking for ways to expand (enter, the Ferndale Project). Dayne mentions that their entire business model is focused on direct to consumer sales, so it’s very important to have the experience of a taproom. Being able to ensure high quality from when ingredients are ordered to when a customer is served is crucial to Ferndale Project, and the taproom setting allows for that control. When Dayne and team looked to where they wanted to expand, they sought to be in a neighborhood and close to the original Detroit location. Right around that same time Axel Brewing closed, and Dayne reached out with condolences to Axel’s owner and CEO, Dan, who also happened to be a friend. Dan immediately said, “you have to buy us!” After a few months of discussion, both parties agreed on a deal and Ferndale Project moved into the space. The transition went quickly, and in under a year Ferndale Project was up and running. Shortly after, COVID-19 hit, and Ferndale Project found themselves temporarily closed.

After COVID hit, in an effort to rally his team and encourage them to think outside the box (and pandemic), Dayne launched 10 businesses in 10 days. These business ideas were mainly created by his staff, with brainstorm sessions held during their nightly “family meals” when the team gathers (with 6 feet safely between each member) to share ideas and discuss current events. Not only did this initiative lift spirits and spark innovation, but months later 9 of those 10 businesses are running and doing well.

People often ask Dayne what it’s been like to open a business and immediately have COVID hit, but he believes their timing was actually a blessing. There is no kitchen at the Eastern Market Brewing Co. location, but the Ferndale Project kitchen has allowed the business to pivot to other avenues that serve a larger audience like pizza, frozen pasties, and baked goods. One of those avenues has been delivery and contactless curbside service, which is currently their major focus. Beer, food, and grocery staples can be ordered through both and Dayne also credits being in a community like Ferndale for much of their success – the community is passionate, supportive, and can easily walk or ride their bikes up for a visit.

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