The story of how Aretha Franklin changed this restaurant’s fried chicken recipe

The longtime restaurant has strong ties to the Detroit music scene

If you’ve been to Eastern Market, then chances are you know of Bert’s Warehouse. The restaurant and music joint is well known for cooking up ribs and chicken during the summer on their large outdoor grills that wrap partially around the building. They have strong ties to Motown and the music scene in Detroit, including having several famous Detroiters as patrons.

One such patron was the Queen of Soul herself, Aretha Franklin. According to Melba Dearing, a third-generation owner of the spot, Franklin would come by frequently and one day she found her way into the kitchen and said, “let me show you all how I do it.” From then on they’ve been serving it up the same way.

So what exactly did she tweak? Well for one, she added some Cajun seasoning to the recipe to give it a bit of a kick and some saltiness. However, the main secret, according to Dearing, is to marinate the chicken in cold buttermilk. Before the chicken goes into the seasoned flour, it should be nice and cold.

Jason Carr tried some and said, “This is phenomenal... it’s so flavorful, and the crust is light and crunchy at the same time.”

Besides some chicken and ribs that will make you sing, Bert’s is also known for their wings, fried catfish, mac and cheese, and other soul food dishes.

They offer both carry-out and dine-in, and frequently have live music. Bert’s Marketplace is located at 2727 Russell Street in Detroit.

For the full story, watch the video above.


About the Author:

Michelle Oliver is a multimedia Journalist for the 10 a.m. lifestyle show, "Live in the D." She is known as "the food girl" because of her two popular food franchises, Dine in the D and Find Your Fix. Michelle also covers stories on homegrown businesses, style, and other fun things happening in the D.