About the WAB
Woodward Avenue Brewers, or “WAB”, as we’re affectionately called, is much more than a restaurant or bar. Established in 1997, The WAB has become a landmark along Woodward Avenue in Ferndale and has welcomed visitors – those in the neighborhood and those far and wide – for more than 14 years. It was the vision of Chris Johnston, who had spent years touring with a band and experiencing microbreweries out west. He partnered with his wife, Krista, and his brother, Grant, to create an establishment along Woodward Avenue – the historic stretch of motorway connecting Detroit and its northern suburbs – which would become a gathering place for patrons to enjoy handcrafted brews, great food, friendly atmosphere and the action on the Avenue.
The city of Ferndale, just north of the 8 mile border of Detroit, was poised to become a hotbed for rejuvenation and creativity. With its central location and a local community ready to embrace a neighborhood gathering place, the Johnstons, along with their partners, found a gem of inspiration in a two story building which had been originally built as a dance studio, but more recently – and infamously – a massage parlor, “The Loving Touch”.
Re-modeling began in 1996 at the hands of the owners and partners themselves, first with the gutting and structural work, then with the construction of two bars: upstairs, a multi-level floor plan which created intimate corners, a gaming area and a stage, and a ground floor bar and lounge with a view of the brewhouse, offering a perfect setting for private parties in the colder months.
Over the years, The WAB has crafted signature and seasonal brews, while also operating with a full liquor license. The brewery was proud to be named “Best Microbrewery” by HOUR Detroit for 2008, 2009 and 2010.
In 2005, The WAB opened a 75-seat sidewalk cafe after petitioning the city of Ferndale to make a new law allowing all Ferndale businesses to offer sidewalk seating. And ever since, it has become a favorite summer destination for area residents. The partners have also extended their footprint down Woodward Avenue with additional establishments: across Troy St., The Emory in 2006, and in 2008, a billiards hall one building south of the WAB, putting a new twist on the old name, The Loving Touch.
WAB has been the presenting sponsor for the annual DIY Street Fair, which invites local independent creative professionals, businesses, bands, restaurants and Michigan brewers to converge at Woodward Avenue and Troy St. for one big, annual celebration of local pride and entrepreneurial spirit. It has quickly become a not-to-miss annual Ferndale tradition – one that The WAB is immensely proud be a part.
Woodward Avenue Brewers thanks the city of Ferndale and visitors within and beyond the neighborhood for supporting the brewery over the years and helping to establish it as a landmark on the Avenue. We are very proud to be part of this vibrant and creative community.