Penny Red’s Review

Penny Reds in Detroit

Maria Maraldo

The outside of Penny Red’s in the Shinola Hotel.

Maria Maraldo, Guest Writer

A new Fried chicken joint, named Penny Red’s, is one of the many restaurants that have recently opened at  the Shinola Hotel in Downtown Detroit. Owned by a New-York based group called NoHo hospitality, the casual beer hall and fried chicken restaurant is located in the back of the Shinola building and across from Parker’s alley. The unique layout and design of the joint  draws people in. With a name like Penny Red’s and a slogan that states “We’re in the back”, one would probably have expectations to be surprised while experiencing the restaurant– I definitely was.

From the quick service and organized layout of the “back” of the restaurant (Penny Red’s, where you order) to the distinctive system of taking your food into another room called The Brakeman to eat it, almost everything about dining at Penny Red’s is a complete success.

Penny Red’s is on John R street, perpendicular to another large establishment, Element by Westin. As soon as we pulled up in front of the restaurant, a valet service took our car and parked it for $10.  

As we walked in, our eyes landed on a large menu that contained sandwiches, buckets of chicken, biscuits and several sides.  In front of us was a large counter to order at. After ordering, we walked into The Brakeman, (a beer hall attached to Penny Red’s which is named after a Shinola watch), grabbed a seat, and waited for our food.

The atmosphere was nothing short of exceptional and spirited. There were game tables where people were playing bean bag toss and stations where you could serve yourself beer (which I, of course, didn’t).  People were sitting at high tops and there were two bars open, with large television screens above them, which were showcasing sports games. Even for a Tuesday night, the room was packed and at high volume. The atmosphere was lively and it made my experience at Penny Red’s just that much better.  

The food came out around 10 minutes after we ordered, which we were notified of via buzzer. We walked back into Penny Red’s and picked up a tray with everything on it. I ordered “The Classic” sandwich, which was $8 and well worth the already low price. I also ordered a side of the Crispy Smoked Maple Brussel Sprouts, which were enjoyable and cost $4. The other sandwiches, “K-Town Cutlet” and “Dirty Coup”, were slightly more expensive, at $9 and $10, respectively. The buckets of fried chicken also came at reasonable prices based on the quantity received. To give an idea, the five piece bucket costs $13 and the ten piece buckets costs $24. There is also a wide selection of beer offered, and customers have the option to book a selve-serve beer table, which costs $199 for 12 people.  The Breakman offers mostly Michigan and Midwestern based brews and requires its customers to pay with tokens, which are received upon entrance.

While seated in The Breakman, the wait staff was extremely friendly and attentive. Multiple waitresses and waiters were working behind the bars while others were circling the floor and cleaning everything, including  the floors, at all times. In my opinion, this is done to maintain the sharpness of Shinola’s brand and the image of the new hotel.

Once finished with our food, we notified a staff member that we were leaving and they immediately cleared the place we were sitting in after we got up.  

The dishes served were fantastic and while the presentation of the food wasn’t anything special, it didn’t need to be because the quality of the food spoke for itself. The lively atmosphere of The Brakeman and the unique setup of Penny Red’s flowing into the beer hall made dining there a very enjoyable experience. I would recommend Penny Red’s to anyone who is looking for a new, chill place to go to and have fun.  


Penny Red’s

Downtown Detroit

Price Range: $3-$45

4.5/5 stars