Tijuana chicken stew, cheesy jalapeno tater, Caribbean seafood, Italian lady, African peanut … need I say more? I haven’t even reviewed the entire list of soups on the “Soups of the Day” menu, and I’m begging for my lunch hour to begin already!
Lunchtime Global, located in the First National Building, sports superb customer service and superb culinary fare. “Product and quality customer experience mean everything to us,” says Randy Dickow, the operating manager and owner. Lunchtime Global sure aims to please! My attempt to get the African peanut soup recipe was a fail, but my interview with Dickow can give you a glimpse behind the counters at Lunchtime Global.
Yes, we’re doing anywhere from 8–14 soups per day. We’ve even had as many as 18 soups per day. Certain days we have to serve staple soups, like on Mondays we serve African peanut or on Wednesdays, chicken pot pie. Even though we have a lot of soup options, we cater to our customers with their high demands on that particular day.
What makes your restaurant unique?
First and foremost, our soups. We’re pretty well known because of our variety and quality of soups. Our bread and soups are made from scratch in-house, daily. Our focaccia bread, salad dressings, pasta salads – everything you see over there is made from scratch. We try to deliver the highest-quality products and quality customer service. We have people that are able to walk in and we’re able to put together an order before they even place it. Others call in and we’re able to speak with them on a first-name basis for their catering orders. We’re able to assure our customers their time is valuable and we respect their lunchtime so we are going to make it as pleasant as possible.
This is the only location for Lunchtime Global, but we are in the process of opening two more restaurants. One in the Renaissance center, Sweet Lorraine’s Macaroni & Cheese, and the second location we’re building is Freshii, which we’re opening in 1001 Woodward.
How long have you been in the restaurant business?
While growing up, I worked with my family in gourmet supermarkets with delis, handling prepared foods and things of that nature. After I graduated from college, I went for finance and actually worked at Quicken for some time. I left for Cleveland, invested in a few companies, came back and decided I wanted to be an entrepreneur because it is in my blood. To be honest I looked for a long time and stumbled upon this place which was non-owner operating at that time. I saw there were a lot of things that could be changed. I saw a ton of potential. A lot of people thought I was crazy for buying a restaurant in Detroit. I brought a couple of people in with me. We came down and we changed the culture. As far as the quality of product, we set a high standard. The biggest thing for me running this business is surrounding yourself with all the right people that are as passionate as you are.
Your team is filled with rock stars! How do you pick people to work on your team?
It took a long time. I would say the hardest thing, after figuring out the food, is picking the right people to work with you. That’s right – they work with me, not for me. I let them all know that. I give them opportunities to participate in the recipe development process.
Are you thinking about franchising Lunchtime Global? Feel like sharing this culinary gift outside of downtown Detroit?
I’ve definitely gone back and forth with that. What scares me is that everything is made here from scratch. If you’re not controlling it, then it isn’t going to be consistent – and that scares me. Now, would I do a second location? Absolutely. I’m hoping to find a location outside of Detroit. Not necessarily in West Bloomfield, but we do have brand recognition, so I would look into another market and would also take the right situation.
What are some of the stories behind the soup names?[The soups are named by] spices and seasonings that are most prevalent in or that represent those unique areas and countries. You’re always going to have the staples: broccoli cheddar soup, chilies, rice soup. We try to take it to another level with flavors like cheeseburger soup, margherita soup, grilled cheese and tomato soup or African peanut, for example.
My all-time favorite is chicken pot pie. Second favorite, African peanut soup. It was our house soup in the beginning. I have a soft spot for it as it reminds me of where we first started. I would say our split pea soup is for the days when I’m feeling like having a lighter meal. Grilled cheese is creeping into my top three favorites as well. It’s fighting for a spot!
What would you like a first-time customer to know?
We have the right people, we’ve put the right process together, and our product here is second to none. A lot of products are locally produced at Eastern Market. We try to support the small businesses in the local area and carry some products that are locally based. We are passionate about what we do. When you come here, you will see and feel good quality and passion.