An interview with The Wurst Bar’s Jesse Kranyak

A few days ago, I posted something here about Ypsi’s newest, gourmet sausage-filled watering hole, The Wurst Bar. As I said at the time, I really liked the place, and, since my visit, I’ve been exchanging emails with the owner, Jesse Kranyak. What follows is our exchange. I hope you enjoy it.

MARK: Assuming you’re the same Jesse Kranyak that’s on Facebook, you were, at some point, a student at the University of Michigan, is that right?

JESSE: I was, but I was also at a few other schools before U-M. After high school, I went into the Marine Corps, and then I went to EMU for a few years, before dropping out of school to manage restaurants. I later enrolled online at Schoolcraft, and then finished school at U of M Dearborn.

MARK: Schoolcraft is really well known for their culinary arts program. Did you, by any chance, take any food-rated courses there, or are you all self-taught when it comes to cooking?

JESSE: When it comes to cooking I would say that I am very aware of flavors and tastes and I am relatively adept at concepts… But when it comes to implementing the two sides of a dish outside of my home kitchen, I don’t have a lot of experience, so I like to work with chefs in finalizing the menus I have made over the year. Here we have Chef Dan, who is an amazingly creative chef, his salad creations have been delicious, the veggie burgers he makes have all been really interesting and his first diversion from our original sausage recipes; the rattlesnake and the rabbit, have both been a real hit with the customers.

MARK: What kind of degree did you ultimately graduate with?

JESSE: I studied Anthropology at U of M and graduated a few years back. I’ve always been interested in the bar and restaurant scene, though. Its been my passion since I was a teenager. I was only going to school to pass the time. I never pictured myself using a degree for anything. I’ve always enjoyed managing myself much more than having someone else do it. Eventually I had all these credits, though, and it was time to pick a major and graduate. I ended up going for Anthropology, and that led me into the Peace Corps for a while, before settling into the hectic restaurant life for good.

MARK: And, would I be right in assuming that, for the past few years, you’ve been working at this restaurant on Lake Erie that’s linked to from the website of the Wurst Bar?

JESSE: Correct, I was managing a restaurant in Novi when my father, stepmother and her longtime business partner (and now also mine) Jim Seba made a land purchase on Kelleys Island that included a restaurant. Myself and some of my friends got together and helped them open the first year and business was great. That was about eight years ago… While I was in the Peace Corps my father became gravely ill and passed away, I came back early and helped close the restaurant for the season in fall of 2010. The next year we had a family meeting and decided that I could open the restaurant that year with a business plan I had already gotten financing for a spot in LA. That year we doubled business and the last year we saw an additional 30% increase. That place is called the Kelleys Island House and it’s been a lot of fun to run the past few years.

MARK: So, having been at EMU for a while, you weren’t a stranger to Ypsilanti…

JESSE: I live in Ypsi now. And I lived here for a little over two years before – between 1999 to 2001. And, for the last year, I’ve been living in Ann Arbor, while looking for a property.

MARK: Did you ever go to Theo’s – the bar in the spot you now inhabit – back when you were a student at EMU? If so, I’m curious to know your thoughts about the place. I’ve lived in Ypsi off and on for the past 16 years or so, and, I’m sorry to say, I never went in. To tell you the truth, I thought that it had closed a decade ago. I literally never saw anyone going entering or leaving. Did they do a good business as far as you know?

JESSE: I had been to Theo’s as an undergrad student, I can’t really remember much about it… Not that it wasn’t memorable, I have just always been a beer fanatic, back then it was quantity, now it’s more quality, so a lot of those 21 year old memories have slipped away…

MARK: Was in your idea to open a sausage restaurant in Ypsi, or was it the idea of your partners, who also own the seasonal place on Kelley’s Island, in Lake Erie?

JESSE: Charcuterie and fresh sausage making came about from grinding hamburgers at the place we run in the summer. Myself and our manager, Jeff Sanchez, are big time burger fanatics. We have trolled all the best spots across the USA, had burgers in LA at spots like Umami Burger, Redwood and Father’s Office or AJ Bombers in Wisconsin; Millers in Dearborn, of course, and many other places. So, 3 years ago when we took over the kitchen on Kelleys Island we started really experimenting with burger meat, blends, spices, seasonings, aging, etc… We ended up scoring pretty high reviews with a blend of hanger, brisket and short rib that we trimmed 95% lean and then added in 20% suet fat, seasoned with miso, tamari, and fish sauce to bring out the salty and savory flavors in the meat itself, we outfitted those with brioche and munster. So, we were sitting at Sidetracks (great burger) and talking about how everyone has the ‘best burger’, one of us said we should advertise the worst burger and then… well, it was obvious we had to learn how to make sausages. Then, the grinding really started getting complex, everything we were making started coming out really delicious, but there were so many more variables! I mean, we already use 9 ingredients in a regular hamburger, so you can imagine what goes into a rabbit and fig sausage. There were a few learning curves but we hired a new chef, Dan Klenotic, formerly from Cafe Felix on Main St. AA and a friend of ours named Mike Babcock who had been making sausages professionally for about 10 years came in as a consultant on getting the right mouthfeel and snap… and then here we are today. Putting the place in Ypsi was a no-brainer, a lot of the East Ann Arbor crowd, Depot Town and Michigan Ave folks are young professionals that are into new concepts and different foodie type menus and craft beers, plus this building, specifically, is located on one of most underdeveloped college campuses in the entire country.

MARK: Well, all the hard work paid off, at least when it comes to the burgers. As I mentioned on my site a few days ago, The Southerner, which comes with pimento cheese and a fried green tomato, is awesome. What’s the origin of that burger? And where do you get your green tomatos?

JESSE: Well, we had some great pimento cheese in Ashville N.C. And I thought, man, this needs to be on a burger. At that point it seemed kind of fitting to make go all the way south with a burger and it tastes great!

MARK: So, do you commute between here and Kellys’s Island, or are you here in Ypsi 24/7 now?

JESSE: I am in Ypsi 24/7, I rented a loft on Cross a couple months back. Kelley’s Island is surrounded by ice for another few months yet.

MARK: And, if you don’t mind my asking, I’m curious to how how this whole thing came together. It sounds like the owner of the bar in Lake Erie helped you with the money to get launched, is that right? I’m always interested to know how people with entrepreneurial vision are able to make things happen?

JESSE: As I mentioned before, my partner Jim has been working with my stepmom for over 25 years and they have both been a great influence on my desires to work outside the box. I decided that I was going to commit full time to owning a restaurant about 4 years ago and just started plugging away at making a business plan and learning all I could about the minutia involved in the business that is behind the scenes. The island was a great training ground for that over the years. The first concept I had involved a whiskey bar and gourmet sandwiches, think Reuben, but the bread is a rye and caraway seed waffle and the sauerkraut is kimchi. But, I really wanted to make this place in Ypsi to be a draw from a bigger radius outside of the community, so I had to do something nobody was doing in Detroit or Ann Arbor. Plus, the sausage game is really an incredible way to showcase flavors and kitchen talent.

MARK: What’s the reception been like so far?

JESSE: Well, honestly, the nights have been so busy for the first 2 weeks that I haven’t had time to catch up! We wanted to reopen the space before EMU came back from break, so that nobody noticed that the building was shut down. I think that having another closed store front in the area would have just been discouraging to everyone. So we were working in overtime mode, and a lot of the ‘kinks’ have been worked out on busy nights instead of being thoroughly thought out in the planning stages. We still don’t look very inviting during the day, so some glass doors will be replacing the famous THEO DOORS this weekend, to help draw some eyeballs into the place from that super traffic count on Cross St. to help out lunches. The neighbors have been great and very welcoming, but, like I mentioned before, I haven’t really met a lot of the other community members yet (except, of course, all the happy faces I meet at tables).

MARK: Where did you get the idea to put a cod and crawdad bratwurst on the menu? Did you pick that up in a cookbook somewhere, or do you just have a laboratory in the back, where you just keep trying different concoctions? I should add that I was at your place the other day, and my friend Jeff ate two of the cod n’ crawdad brats, and loved them.

JESSE: Well, we originally had Gator and Crawfish on the menu, that was flying out of here. It was in a Boudin sausage that traditionally has brown rice in it, but the ratios of brown rice to meat that we pay over $10 a pound for was really not working into our price points so we had to experiment. The first round was to cut the sausage with cod and drop the more expensive gator. Then people were complaining that the gator was gone. So, the menu that came out this past Wednesday has the final version; Gator, Crawfish and Cod. It’s about 40% cod in the protien portion, anything more becomes cod flavored and you miss the crawfish initial taste and alligator finish… otherwise we would have to sell the sausages at about $10 and we are here to provide an experience people can afford to try. But that’s been Dan’s project the last week, figuring out which percentages worked the best.

MARK: Is it at a surprise to you at all that people in this relatively small, financially struggling Midwestern town are willing to try things like rattlesnake chorizo sausages?

JESSE: No, not at all. Ypsilanti and AA have tons of foodies and people have loved experimenting since all the food television shows became popular. We put snake on the menu and sold 6 to the first 4 tables at lunch!

MARK: Is there any combination that just doesn’t work? Have there been disasters?

JESSE: We made a chicken and duck hot wing sausage that tasted great when samples on the grill, but as soon as we charbroiled it all the filling refused to tack and assemble itself, so the meat was just all over the place. When we make the sausages it is really easy to take a sample and cook it off on the grill, it’s spice has to stand up to a bun, but for the most part the recipes we have created have all been great.

MARK: I notice on your site that your vision is to eventually source 85% of your ingredients locally. Given that you’ve got stuff like cod, rattlesnake, and crawdads on the menu, that’s going to be a hell of a task. I’m wondering what kind of success you’ve had thus far finding local farmers, etc. to work with.

JESSE: Ahhh… And, a hell of a task it will be! So far we are a ways off from our goal, but my plan has been to get open and then work on sourcing, I made the website with the intention in saying 85% scratch made and locally sourced, but at 4am wrote scratch made and locally sourced 85%… I noticed last week and changed it, but I got together with our chef and decided that goal is actually attainable, we just have to be really clear with how we communicate that to our customers. For instance, thats only talking about meats, breads and vegetables… And is using a local company like Frog Holler to get Mexican Coke products considered local sourcing? And if we buy produce from them, but it’s a citrus? As for right now we are using about 25% local sourcing. That’s about to change, as I have been in contact with a few farms in the area the last two weeks. It just might mean we switch from lamb and bison merguez to lamb and yak, because I can get both of those products born and raised 20 minutes north of us. One hold up has been bread, we keep getting samples that cant hold up to the meats; too flat, too grainy, too salty. But, we have an email out to a couple bakeries, its just difficult to have any clout with vendors until you are a bit more established. When we do make the switch our entrance chalkboard will start listing all the local sourcing we do, so there is no more confusion between myself and the customers. On the island I make a Friday run to Cleveland’s East Side market and spend about 50% of our order budget buying locally, and that takes a lot of work being that it’s on an island. Anyway, my email is and I’m more than willing to check out all of our local vendors that we haven’t been in touch with, who may be reading.

MARK: One last kind of goofy question.. Let’s say someone came to you with a special request, like a placenta sausage? Would you do it? And what would you mix in with placenta anyway?

JESSE: There’s no way to answer that without reversing all the readers’ thoughts on our food! But, I guess placenta eating is what most animals do after childbirth, and a quick google search makes it seem like quite a few human cultures do as well!

So, I think it would probably make a good blood sausage or British Banger…

And, I should probably add that I wasn’t asking about the possibility of a placenta sausage for myself. Arlo’s placenta was buried in the yard within a week of his birth. I do think, however, that there might be a pretty good little niche for that kind of thing.

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  1. Steve Pickard
    Posted January 29, 2012 at 1:06 am | Permalink

    I can honestly say until I read this article, I thought remodeling Ypsi’s worst frat bar EVER into a quirky foodie establishment…was a disappointment waiting to happen.

    Now I doubt that initial assessment and actually want to try some of their un-sausage-fest sausage.

  2. Edward
    Posted January 29, 2012 at 7:52 am | Permalink

    I’m unclear from the article about two things.

    First, he makes an offhand mention to a restaurant in LA. Do they have something in Los Angeles?

    Second, he mentions a burger recipe that incorporates “a blend of hanger, brisket and short rib that we trimmed 95% lean and then added in 20% suet fat, seasoned with miso, tamari, and fish sauce to bring out the salty and savory flavors in the meat itself, we outfitted those with brioche and munster.” I’m not clear if that was just an early recipe that he and his partners had success with, or if that’s how they’re presently making burgers at The Wurst Bar.

    Welcome to the neighborhood, Jamie. Here’s wishing you tons of success.

  3. Thom Elliott
    Posted January 29, 2012 at 8:01 am | Permalink

    Oh my god… I know this is what american humans want, I know they are just lining up to cram their pharynxs to straining with as many types of well-seasoned murdered animals in one sitting as possible, and I know Ypsi needs good local business, but at what expense? This sounds like its going to kill people with cholesterol, contributing to the grotesque obesity epidemic, and destroy what piddling amount of spirtuality they may already ignore inside themselves. How I wish Ypsilanti was a little more enlightened, how I wish we didn’t have to make money for the city by the pointless and morally reprehensable murder of as many kinds of animals as possible to cater to lowest common denominator.

  4. Edward
    Posted January 29, 2012 at 8:15 am | Permalink

    I get where you’re coming from, Thom, but I think that your outrage is probably misplaced. In the whole scheme of things, I think that the fast food chains that shit out an endless supply of factory farmed meat patties are more deserving of condemnation than an independent business like this one, that’s going to efforts to source ingredients locally and, it would appear, seems to care about the bigger picture? I fully support your activism in the area of animal rights, but you’ve lost me here. Furthermore, The Wurst Bar, from what I’ve been told, has gone to efforts to provide good vegetarian and vegan options.

  5. Thom Elliott
    Posted January 29, 2012 at 8:51 am | Permalink

    I know my opinion isn’t popular, that’s why I voice it. Fastfood is grotesque and should have been made illegal decades ago for its unconcionable factory moulding of salty plastic and crude animal fat into cute food-shaped items, creating childhood diabetes! And killing untold amounts of adults with heart disease/stroke. I’m sorry, the “big picture” is about stopping the eating/distrobution of mechanically murdered flesh, not looking for more “sustainable” avenues for murder. If its local, that’s at least ‘better’ for the horrific pollution and potential for new disease creation, but doesn’t change the fact that this business is based on the distrobution of murdered flesh, in vast quanitites, which is literally killing this nation, and destroying the earth.

  6. SparkleMotion
    Posted January 29, 2012 at 9:23 am | Permalink

    “Fastfood is grotesque and should have been made illegal decades ago for its unconcionable factory moulding of salty plastic and crude animal fat into cute food-shaped items, creating childhood diabetes! And killing untold amounts of adults with heart disease/stroke.”

    But let me guess – drugs should be legalized, because somehow that’s different.

    It disdains me when people think they are taking the moral high ground by proposing taking choices away from others. I assume you’re voting for Gingrich?

    I for one am happy for this establishment to open. I look forward to exercising my right as a human with free will to chow down on some rabbit and fig sausages. I hope to see many others there too doing the same.

  7. Brainless
    Posted January 29, 2012 at 9:31 am | Permalink

    Oh, shut the fuck up Thom. Humans have been eating animals since the dawn of time and you whiny little bitches aren’t ever going to stop it, so you probably should just learn how to live with it in peace. Wurst Bar is an excellent establishment. Whatever happened to just shutting your mouth and not going to a place if you don’t like it?

    “Murder” my sausage-enhanced ass, you over-dramatic little twit.

  8. Thom Elliott
    Posted January 29, 2012 at 9:48 am | Permalink

    Charming. Humans have in fact eaten flesh for a long time, that is indeed true, but I ask, was it always distributed via industrial production? Was it eaten at every meal? Humans need to consume flesh for survival when they need to survive, we are so far from primordial subsistence our children literally have diabetes. I love the assertion that I should just learn to live with global climate change, industrial production, and the most expensive and pernicious diseases which beset my slavishly ignorent fellow countrymen? and country children? Who become addicted to this horrific “food”, and pass on the bloated moronic deathscape to another hapless generation, and its fucking tab.

  9. Posted January 29, 2012 at 9:50 am | Permalink

    Thom the troll. So a little person who doesn’t like meat trolls message boards like an away salesman bitching about new businesses opening up spewing negative anti meat bullshit like anyone cares. You left 2 comments you toolbox without going inside. You are as pointless as the pretentious h you put in your clown shows of a name. No one cares what you say or eat. But thanks for being negative for no reason. Now run off to yell at kids for listening to music too loud.

  10. Posted January 29, 2012 at 12:19 pm | Permalink

    @Thom The vegan and vegetarian options are equally appealing and just as delicious!

    I was actually hoping this fellow Jesse would keep the old Theo’s doors. I loathed Theo’s in undergrad (it was the “Greek” bar) but those doors will always feel iconic and 100% Ypsi – does anyone know what he is doing with them? If he hasn’t bought those glass doors yet, perhaps he should reconsider!

  11. Posted January 29, 2012 at 1:27 pm | Permalink

    Thom Elliott, you seem to have awoken on the wrong side of the bed this morning. I assume you are assuming that we load up our sausages with nitrates, chemicals and fat? well, there isn’t a sausage on the menu that has a proprietary blend greater than 85/15 and thats about the leanest meat you can get from most restaurants… not including the vegetarian sausages, and vegetarian burger and vegetarian app options. In fact, I bet you would be hard pressed to find a more vegetable eater friendly menu in Ypsi. I think if you researched diabetes more you might find that meat isn’t as culpable as fast food is and our food definitely isn’t fast, as it takes about 15 minutes to cook a raw sausage. But, thanks for your interest in health.

    Edward, thanks for the welcome. We are making that burger in our other restaurant, here we are using 80/20 cuts of chuck, short rib and brisket that we season on the grill with fish sauce, and tamari. I think its better than our other burger, so I am going to change the other one when we reopen in May. There is no place in LA, I was there a few years ago and almost did my first venture there, I am glad I didn’t, this area (winter included) is much better for lots of reasons.

  12. Max Abuelsamid
    Posted January 29, 2012 at 3:44 pm | Permalink

    God, Thom is a whiney prick. Just as bad as the people who make that shitty fast food you loathe so much.

    Jesse, keep it up! Your food is fantastic, I just have a couple of suggestions: A bigger tray or actual plates for the food (It was difficult to pull my burger out without it falling apart, and it was tough to eat over), and replace/clean the bathroom fixtures ASAP! The door handle exiting the bathroom was rather grotesque, and besides being the slow and useless type, the hand driers were rusted out. Otherwise, the food and music were great!

  13. eDWeiRD
    Posted January 29, 2012 at 4:54 pm | Permalink

    Just ate there today with a friend. The burger was really good and I look forward to trying the sausages. I do have one problem with the place, though: it’s not very inviting from the outside and once inside it took forever for my eyes to adjust. Replacing the doors is a good first step, but you need to find a way to let in more natural light. If I’m correct there is also a window next to the doors that’s opaque. I would replace that too. This would go a long way to letting people know you’re open.

    Ps. Whoever thought up sweet potatoe tater tots is a flipping genius! Not a fan of the curried ketchup, though.

  14. Logical Conclusionr
    Posted January 29, 2012 at 5:43 pm | Permalink

    Thom, I’ll stop eating meat if you’ll stop eating farmed food. No single invention has caused more ecological destruction than the plow.

  15. Eel
    Posted January 29, 2012 at 8:52 pm | Permalink

    Don’t take the criticisms too seriously, Jesse. In the whole scheme of things, the problems people are bringing up are minimal. (It may not come across, but people are just trying to help by giving you suggestions… “keep the doors,” “more natural light”, “bigger plates”.) Everyone here is pulling for you, and your food is incredible. Keep it up. We all want for you to succeed.

  16. Posted January 29, 2012 at 11:33 pm | Permalink

    I like you, Thom, and appreciate your comments on the side. Seeing as how you’re being beaten up a bit here, I just though that I should mention that.

    With that said, though, I disagree with you on what you had to say above. Like others, I agree there are probably more deserving targets for you wrath. And, having eaten at The Wurst Bar with a vegan, I know that they go out of their way to provide non-meant options.

  17. X Eid Ed
    Posted January 30, 2012 at 12:06 am | Permalink

    Ate there Saturday night. Ordered the southerner and a round of veggie tot nachos.

    Holy shit. With due deference to some other truly exceptional burgers around town, as a child who grew up on (in hindsight, crappy) pimento cheese, to my biased taste, that very well was the best burger of my life (no kidding). For $7. Your taste-to-cost ratio might even beat White Castle.

    The tot nachos (magically not greasy) redefined my limited (as it turns out) conception of what tots could be. It also helped that our waitstaff was delightful. Our friends had the snake/chorizo. Quickly followed up with another round of snake/chrizo. Everyone at our table was exceedingly happy.

    I’ll add a few things that could make our experience there even better (please read: not complaints, and this is just me):

    -if you weren’t out of Diabolical, we would have stayed a couple hours longer, probably ordering multiple pitchers and more sausage (I’m guessing you’ll sort that out soon enough … Friday night $2 pints, I understand).

    -the cage match fighting, on lots of TVs, seemed a bit out-of-sync with the crowd that evening (maybe just have the Cool TV ready as a backup?) Unless you start making meat out of UFC fighters, it doesn’t seem to fit. But, if it’s a draw for others, it was easy enough to tune out.

    -once you’ve earned enough to offset your initial investment, hire a local designer to make your website more accurately reflect the quality of your product. Your current site did well in lowering our expectations, but I don’t think you need low expectations to exceed them. For more than one in my party, the online menu didn’t load. (No rush, though, word of mouth will carry you for a while. But if you want someone to drive in from Royal Oak, they’ll need online assurance that it’s worth the trip.)

    -when you get to a new website, explain various parking options for out-of-towners.

    -yes, the THEO doors are a small local icon. But, I think they do need to be replaced with something that gives folks a comforting/alluring peek inside. Suggestion, just don’t scrap the doors. Give them away, auction them, or, better yet, use them as urinal dividers/wall art.

    -add a sauna. What’s another thing they don’t have in LA? A sausage and sauna bar. Think it over.

    In short, love the place. You (and all your staff I encountered) are doing a great job. I’ll spread the word.

  18. eDWeiRD
    Posted January 30, 2012 at 1:36 am | Permalink

    And yes, just so I know I’m not being misunderstood, the place has gotten off to a nice start. Planning to come back with more friends. Sweet potatoe tater tots!

  19. Posted January 30, 2012 at 7:37 am | Permalink

    Since we weren’t here for undergrad, my wife and I never enjoyed the old Theo’s, which I understand features $1 pitchers of “beer” as the primary attraction. I’ve raved over it to people who did go to EMich and remember Theo’s “fondly”, though, and they’re excited to come see what it’s turned into.

    We so far love the new place, and, while we certainly agree there needs to be a little more visibility, the doors are definitely iconic, and we’re hoping you’ll find a way to keep them as interior decor. (I would suggest using them for bathroom doors, but those suckers are heavy, and I’m guessing you’d get dinged on ADA trying to new-install them anywhere without automatic openers…)

  20. Thom Elliott
    Posted January 30, 2012 at 7:58 am | Permalink

    Firstly I am surely not a troll but an active participant, and I always use my name because I am accountable for my views, unlike you; annoymous peanut gallery. Then just about every time the subject of flesh eating comes up, I am negative, this is because I am an ethical deontologist, who believes its my duty to do so, an obligation to a ‘catagorical imparative’ if you will. The ponderous response from the unwashed masses to my critisism is so unshocking, of course people who do nothing but eat fried flesh, smoke, and drink to excess will strenously object to my critique, or chalk it up to being “whiney”, or other such ad homonym attacks, notice not a single one had any actual arguement against it, and just told me to “shut the fuck up” you “whiney prick”.

  21. Thom Elliott
    Posted January 30, 2012 at 8:19 am | Permalink

    Mark, I dont need to be told I’m liked for you to disagree with me, I knew you would, you eat flesh in depressing establishments like the Cracker Barrel (although I appreciate that you “like” me and my comments generally and felt the need to point it out). To the condescending gentleman from the bar itself (who assumed I did no reasearch on diabetes thereby basing my critique on the sickening notion that anyone who would have a problem with this is just ‘kranky’) notice you said nothing about heart disease/stroke/obesity but concentrated on diabetes? We call that in the philosophy business a “red herring”, I appreciate you have single dishes without flesh in them, I do, but the rabbits, snakes, fish, pigs, cows, sheep might not care so much.

  22. annoymous peanut
    Posted January 30, 2012 at 10:32 am | Permalink

    I’d like to suggest the addition of a Thom Elliott Red Herring Brat to the menu? It sounds delicious.

    And, if this were an episode of Tales from the Crypt, Thom would be halfway through the grinder by now.

  23. Mr. X
    Posted January 30, 2012 at 10:45 am | Permalink

    Could Theo’s Doors, perhaps, be used as table tops, if some glass were put over them?

  24. anonymous
    Posted January 30, 2012 at 11:47 am | Permalink

    Thom has not destructive behaviors, and is the picture of health.

  25. Elf
    Posted January 30, 2012 at 12:24 pm | Permalink

    You take your life in your hands when you fuck with crayfish.

  26. kjc
    Posted January 30, 2012 at 12:48 pm | Permalink

    went there this weekend. have recommended to others. good luck!

  27. Mark D
    Posted January 30, 2012 at 1:33 pm | Permalink

    As a fellow vegan, I’d like to offer a more practical critique:

    My first experience at the Wurst was pretty great–the vegan brat was really good, even without a bun (they didn’t have any vegan buns yet, but were working on sourcing some). The server (an owner/manager, I think) asked a lot of questions about what they could and should be doing to cater to vegans.

    My second experience was just the opposite however. I was at the bar a full half hour before the server asked to take my order. I’d been in too early the week before, but this time was in time for the $3 brat special. It turns out not all brats were on special. That’s weird. So I asked if the vegan brat was on special. The server didn’t seem know what ‘vegan’ meant, so she went to ask about the brats. She came back some time later and unapologetically informed me that there weren’t any vegan brats that night. She didn’t try to offer any other suggestions in terms of what I might eat that was vegan. I’m sure this seems trivial–people run out of stuff, right?–but if you go to a restaurant, and they’re essentially out of food that you can eat, that doesn’t really work. Most of this can probably be chalked up to the craziness of getting off the ground, but if it happened again, I probably wouldn’t go back again.

    I hate to perpetuate the perception that all vegans are angry, dogmatic, and impossible to please–most of us are really quite adaptable, and are grateful when places offer options–especially *multiple* options (i.e. consider making the vegetarian brats vegan). I would add, to boot, that we tend to be very loyal to the places that do hook us up.

  28. Ypsiosaurus Wrecks
    Posted January 30, 2012 at 7:34 pm | Permalink

    I ate there on Saturday. I ordered the vegan brat. It was overcooked and dry. My girlfriend had the brisket/burger. She said it was pretty good. We shared some tots – they were about as good as tots can be. The service was very slow and the music was too loud for conversation. For the sake of business in Ypsi I hope they do well, but I probably won’t go back.

  29. Lulu
    Posted January 31, 2012 at 2:33 am | Permalink

    Interesting comments here. I expected somebody like Thom Elliott to be well received at this site. After all, I remember in a post a few months ago something about Mark Maynard “going vegan again”.
    Nothing could be more self righteous than turning vegan again and again.
    But that does not really concern me. I have a serious question for people who know food. How do you make a vegan sausage that is not dry? I have not eaten at the Wurst bar, but even the 85/15 meat/fat ratio mentioned here seems theoretically pretty dry to me. Every sausage I have ever made is upwards of 1/3 pure animal fat. And they taste marvelous. So how could a vegan sausage even be made? I don’t get it. What replaces all the tasty Omega animal gooeyness?
    I am just curious.

  30. Posted January 31, 2012 at 3:24 am | Permalink

    The vegan brat we carry utilizes seitan and spices… It isn’t perfected yet, the vegan sausage mouthfeel is something we have been playing with. A local Ypsi company is offering some suggestion for us currently in working together to create some better vegan products. The other vegetarian sausage is made with egg white and is therefore not vegan, but it helps with the binding. As soon as I have time to source a good vegan bread we will likely have a better range of vegan friendly options. As for the other sausages, 80/20 is used in about 4, the rest are much leaner and some have no added fat and use rice as the binding agent (crawfish). So, like anything in food there is a spectrum of methods used to create sausages.

    @Mark, sorry about your experience! That’s embarrassing, I feel like Marks blog pushed a few more bodies than we were expecting through the doors on Saturday… But, I’m not complaining! Please, stop by and ask for me, I’ll make it up to you.

    Everyone else, thanks for all the awesome comments, it really makes this job even more fun. Sauna… Ha. I’ll work on the bathrooms first,

  31. Posted January 31, 2012 at 8:07 am | Permalink

    I never said that I was turning vegan again, Lulu. Or, at least I don’t think that I said that… I was a vegan for several years, but I’ve not entertained the idea of going back… not that anything would be wrong with doing so.

  32. Burt Reynolds
    Posted January 31, 2012 at 8:23 am | Permalink

    If there is one thing I have gained from this entire discussion, it is that my new all time favorite word is “mouthfeel.” Thanks Jesse!

  33. Chrissy
    Posted January 31, 2012 at 10:46 am | Permalink

    First of all, I think Jesse is doing a great job for being open such a short time. Welcome to the neighborhood! And really, you just can’t compare a vegan sausage to the real deal. It’s apples to oranges or (pork to soy). I think Jesse should be commended for all the effort he’s putting into creating something the vegetarians/vegans can eat without all the added crap. Here’s a list of what is in a commercial veggie pattie. (Sorry for the caps…it’s a cut & paste.)


    Blech. In a regular brat? Pork, garlic and spices. It doesn’t need artificial flavors, semi-rancid industrial oils or added vitamins in it to make it nutritious and/or edible. Americans are too fat-phobic, but that’s fodder for another forum.

  34. Andy C
    Posted January 31, 2012 at 2:55 pm | Permalink

    People, it’s a new place. Give it time to get the bugs worked out. When I don’t like a place I give it a month or two and try it again. I liked that the music wasn’t loud and we could actually talk. Even with a lot of people in the room it’s way quieter than the Corner.
    Seitan rules! It’s not a substitute for pork it’s an alternative. I thought it was pretty good but maybe different people are preparing on different nights and that will sort it self out in time. We were told the pretzel bun was vegan, I hope that was true. A few folks with me skipped food because they were worried about the wait staffs knowledge of what is actually vegan. No questions there when it came to beer. It’s in my top two favorite evening place to date in Ypsi.

  35. K2
    Posted January 31, 2012 at 5:01 pm | Permalink

    I was expecting more sausage/penis humor. I was pleasantly surprised.

    As for vegans, I love them. I don’t get, however, the love for meat-like stuff. To each his own, but I think it’s weird when I hear people complaining, saying things like, “This vegan blood pudding isn’t clotting like the real stuff.” My advice to Jesse, not that he’s asking for it, is to start tallying the complaints from vegans. Then, when they reach a certain level, I’d suggest taking the vegan sausage off the menu and replacing it with some kind of bland hummus dip that comes with slimy carrot sticks, like you’ll find at other places.

    I’m not trying to be mean to the vegans out there, many of whom are making comments that are meant to be helpful, but I find the attacks frustrating. Here’s a guy who’s experimenting, and trying to do new, innovative stuff for an under-served minority, and it seems like of a lot of them, like Thom, are unappreciative. I can probably count on one hand the number of restaurants in Ypsi that really understand veganism, let alone try make new, tasty products for people of that persuasion. I say the guy deserves not only a break, as Andy C says, but a slap on the back.

  36. Andy C
    Posted January 31, 2012 at 5:44 pm | Permalink

    One person said the vegan brat was dry. Another bitched about meat in general and not about the actual quality of what is there. That’s one actual vegan conplain about the actual food. Also don’t assume that the entire vegan community is commenting on this blog.

    Do people really think vegans want blood pudding? WTF? Why serve a cod brat if it doesn’t taste like the pork one? I don’t know what a meat brat taste like and don’t care. Try the seitan brat and judge it as a what it is.

    Vegans are a demographic. When I go out to eat with six other people, a vegan option is required regardless of what the other six are going to eat. That’s seven people showing now, not just one and The Wurst is on that list of places to go.

    I understand that most people don’t get being vegan, but then again most people give two fucks that slave labor makes their phones and shoes let alone care about the horrific condition of the animals they eat. Shit most people would eat children from Africa if it was legal.

  37. Watching Laughing.
    Posted January 31, 2012 at 6:51 pm | Permalink

    a new Restaurant/Bar opens up in Ypsilanti; which, the city, is always battling with a bad rap and the place calls it’s self, The WURST (WORST) Bar. NICE, how about Ypsi PUB or Pub Ypsi, or THEOS YPSI, THEO’S 2.0?
    The Bars owner went to EMU and no doubt has some clue of what’s goes on in Ypsi and it’s undeserved Bad Rap.
    Wurst, just doesn’t seem Ypsi needs this type of name.
    Oh well, it’s here and GOOD LUCK!!!


    Just My 2 Cents,
    but what do I know, I’ve only been in Ypsi since the early mid 80s.


  38. kjc
    Posted January 31, 2012 at 8:05 pm | Permalink

    lol. WL, that is some stupid shit.

    in Ypsi we don’t stand for wordplay!

  39. Posted January 31, 2012 at 11:22 pm | Permalink

    Watching Laughing, your comment reminds me of the folks that used to write me hate mail when I first started by blog because I abbreviated Ypsilanti as Ypsi.

  40. Watching Laughing.
    Posted February 1, 2012 at 8:14 am | Permalink

    Well, that went over everybodies head.


  41. wetdolphinmissile
    Posted February 1, 2012 at 8:44 am | Permalink

    you got hate mail over calling us Ypsi? We just hate being called Yipsi…

  42. Edward
    Posted February 1, 2012 at 9:14 am | Permalink

    What went over everyone’s head, Watching Laughing? Weren’t you suggesting that Jesse, through the using the word “Worst”, was somehow hurting the image of Ypsi by reinforcing the “Ypsi sucks” narrative?

  43. Meta
    Posted February 1, 2012 at 9:40 am | Permalink

    Speaking of companies more deserving of wrath, this comes from the Global Mail:

    Victory for Jamie Oliver in the U.S. as McDonald’s is forced to stop using ‘pink slime’ in its burger recipe

    TV chef was disgusted to discover ammonium hydroxide was being used by McDonald’s to convert fatty beef offcuts into a beef filler for burgers

    ‘Why would any sensible human being want to put ammonia-filled meat into their children’s mouths? asked Jamie Oliver

    McDonald’s denies its hand had been forced by TV campaign

    Read more:

  44. jesse
    Posted February 1, 2012 at 8:13 pm | Permalink

    VEGANS!! We are ready…
    -Pretzel Bun is vegan if the server is aware of your needs (we use olive oil instead of butter to adhere the pretzel salt)
    -All of our veggie burgers will be vegan from here out, as long as you don’t add cheese and request them on the vegan pretzel. I ate 4 this week, they were delicious, but the recipe changes tomorrow.
    -All types of salads can be ordered vegan, but you must specify so we can replace the dressing when we make it.
    -Hot Italian vegetarian seitan sausage

    Thanks again!!

  45. Elvis Costello
    Posted February 1, 2012 at 8:51 pm | Permalink

    Mark and Jesse, We went in tonight and the food was great! We had beers, the Burger with Peanut Butter, and the Boer Brat, as well as both kinds of Tater Tots. Service was great, and we were very happy with the food. We will definately be back with friends!!!!

  46. anonymous
    Posted February 3, 2012 at 12:50 pm | Permalink

    Cheer up, Jesse. It could be much worse. Just check out the comments at following their puff piece on a new bar in Ann Arbor (The Bar at 327 Braun Court). At least here people had constructive comments.—the-bar-at-327-braun-court/

  47. kjc
    Posted February 5, 2012 at 11:38 am | Permalink

    my girlfriend and I went back yesterday. I had the pretzels and the dark beer on draft and she had the alligator and crawdad on brioche. i met Jesse and Scott and tasted some different beers. They were great hosts. The new doors look fab and it’s a whole different place with the natural light. Great new addition, Ypsi! I for one am so glad they’re here.

  48. TT
    Posted April 18, 2012 at 1:19 pm | Permalink

    The Metro Times visited the Wurst Bar and really liked it.

  49. Elf
    Posted May 2, 2012 at 2:36 pm | Permalink

    Your interview is better, but Concentrate has better photos.

    You need to hire a photographer.

  50. Neu
    Posted May 2, 2012 at 2:53 pm | Permalink

    They make the Sidetrack taste like McDonald’s.

3 Trackbacks

  1. By Wurst Bar criticism on February 19, 2012 at 4:57 pm

    […] to see in Ypsilanti.[For more on the Wurst Bar, you can find my interview with owner Jesse Kranyak here.] This entry was posted in Food, Ypsilanti and tagged Jeff Kay, Jesse Kranyak, Linette Lao, […]

  2. By The Dish: The Wurst Bar | iSPY Magazine on March 24, 2012 at 11:07 am

    […] in January, Mark Maynard interviewed Wurst Bar owner Jesse Kranyak and had only positive things to say about Ypsi’s newest bar (other than that their “straws […]

  3. […] that I’d interview the bar’s owner, Jesse Kranyak, and see how things have gone since we last spoke…MARK: I’m not sure if you want for it to be public knowledge, but you’ve […]

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