For nearly 50 years, a modest spot called Anna’s Coffee Shoppe was a local landmark at the corner of Woodward Avenue and Amherst in Pleasant Ridge — the only restaurant in that close-knit community.
It was really Marion Cosstick who answered to the name Anna, running the place from the time she took it over in 1961 until she died in 2009. Cosstick never had a lease in all those years, but operated on a month-to-month basis.
Now the space has a new lease on life — and a real lease, as well. It has become Mae’s, named for the grandmother of Jessica McCarthy, who took over the location along with her husband, Sean.
Jessica spotted the for-lease sign in November 2009 while walking very early one morning with a neighbor. The space intrigued her instantly, and she made the decision to open the restaurant almost on the spot. “What do you think?” she asked her friend. “Should I do it?” When her walking buddy immediately replied, “yes,” Jessica went home, woke up her husband, and got his somewhat startled approval.
It took only four months from that impulsive decision for the couple to bring Mae’s to life. All that could be salvaged was the furniture, the quilted metal backsplash behind the counter, and a vintage Hamilton Beach milkshake mixer.
New electricity and plumbing had to be installed, and the couple laid new plank flooring themselves after a cleanup washed away the grease and grime left by years of fried eggs and bacon. A good scrubbing revived the bright turquoise vinyl on the 16 counter stools and 26 chairs.
Plates, cups, and glassware are mix-and-match, and the salt and pepper shakers are in the shape of dogs, cats, and cartoon characters. The dÃ©cor now features a wall of small black-and-white photos of friends, family, and dogs (the McCarthys have three).
Jessica and Sean, who both have restaurant backgrounds, assembled a menu that emphasizes local ingredients and brand names. They offer six varieties of Avalon bread, Faygo and Vernors soda pop, Great Lakes coffee, Better Made potato chips, Smith’s bacon from Port Huron, and the house-glazed ham is from Dearborn Ham.
Specialties include a Scandinavian dish, sphere-shaped aebleskievers pancakes, made in a special pan and served with fresh whipped cream and strawberry or raspberry syrup. Another is the butter burger, inspired by the burgers served at two Menominee-area spots: Mickey-Lu Bar-Bq’s and Jozwiak’s.
Mae’s began serving in mid-April, and it’s an early-in-the-day place, opening at 6:30 Tuesday through Friday and at 8 on Saturday and Sunday, closing at 4 p.m. every day.
Near the door is a bowl of dog biscuits, a parting gift to the many dog lovers in the tiny bedroom community that’s split by Woodward. Mae’s is on the east side, which is kiddingly called “Peasant” Ridge by the residents, because the houses are not as grand as those on the west side of the avenue.
24060 Woodward, Pleasant Ridge; 248-548-5355, maesdetroit.com.