Moo Cluck Moo
Because I’m interested in these things, I naturally had to see this place for myself. It was an easy drive from Oakland County to the tiny storefront on the east side of Telegraph, just past Joy Road. Moo Cluck Moo, shorthand for “beef, poultry and dairy” — the brief menu’s specialties — is neighbors with a muffler shop and a tattoo parlor.
No, wait! It gets better.
Compared to most fast-food workers — including an estimated 53,000 in Metro Detroit — Moo Cluck Moo employees are contented cows and chickens. (Or bulls and roosters? They were at work in the open kitchen.) Their counterparts in 60 cities across the U.S. have participated lately in strikes to protest being paid the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour, or a little beyond that. By contrast, Moo Cluck Moo founders Brian Parker and Harry Moorhouse will be improving their staff pay to $15 hourly, the so-called “living wage,” on Oct. 1. This is up from the current $12.
In spite of higher-than-average employee pay, business is booming here to the point that six or seven additional locations are anticipated, according to managing partner Alan Fisher. The Moo Cluck Moo experience is proving that restaurant owners and chains can still make a profit when they pay workers better, and food quality doesn’t have to suffer. Take that, McDonald’s and Burger King!
Opened this year on April 6, Moo Cluck Moo is basically a carryout place. There’s no public restroom and limited seating. Parking places aren’t plentiful. However, with acclaimed Chef Jimmy Schmidt as the menu consultant, this clearly is no ordinary fast food joint. The fine dining background of Fisher includes working at Opus One, the gourmet restaurant formerly in Detroit.
“We decided to create a place for people who love these things as much as we do,” the restaurant website states. “And we wanted to make it memorable. In a world saturated with fast-food choices, our solution is better food fast. . .”
I tried the Notorious Cluck ($6), a large chicken breast dipped in buttermilk, lightly breaded and flash fried. It’s topped with crunchy coleslaw on a house-baked, gluten-free bun. The chicken was tender and tasty; I’d choose it again.
Moo Cluck Moo uses hormone- and steroid-free natural chicken and Angus beef. The Moo Burger ($3) and double-sized Bigger Moo ($5) have their fans, and either can be ordered as a Skinny Moo, wrapped in lettuce instead of in a bun.
For a change, try the Big Shroom, a Portobello mushroom with Grana Padano cheese, spring greens and savory Moo sauce, or one of the monthly creations, showing off the kitchen’s newest ideas. The Blazing Moo, a hot one, is topped with pepper-jack cheese, green chili and chipotle aioli.
Garlic fries ($2.50) are popular for their delicious, garlicky taste. The really yellow color comes from using red palm fruit and sunflower oil. Sea salt fries are another option.
You’ll never find a fast-food milk shake as delicious or with such good consistency as the Fat Cow. The chocolate, vanilla and black cherry shakes, and the black cherry ice cream float, all $4, are made with Calder’s Dairy ice cream from Lincoln Park. The soda pop ($2) here is sweetened with cane sugar instead of high fructose corn syrup, and there are free refills.
Open 11 a.m. till roughly 8 p.m. daily, Moo Cluck Moo is becoming known far and wide.
“A man in France who read about us in the [online] Huffington Post and liked what we’re doing, called to say, ‘I’ll cross the pond for your burgers,’” Fisher said.
Moo Cluck Moo
8606 N. Telegraph Road
Dearborn Heights, MI 48127
$ out of $$$$$