DETROIT — Sam and Ada’s Special Delight Dollar Deli — a mouthful, isn’t it? — was one of the first businesses to open in the Russell Bazaar, 1600 Clay. Its owner, Dessie Morgan, had no intention of opening a restaurant. “I came here with thoughts of being a vendor,” Morgan said. “I had no idea I would end up with a full-fledged restaurant.”
Morgan said she had to go through the whole process, design, construction, inspection and licensing to become a restaurant. She said the owner of the bazaar, Dennis Kalafonis, was a great help. “Without him, it would not have happened,” Morgan said.
She recommends Russell Bazaar to anyone wishing to start a business. Morgan said a business owner can test their product and their market and it will cost them much less than the overhead at a free-standing store.
Sam and Ada’s Special Delight Dollar Deli, named for Morgan’s deceased parents, has been shortened to Dollar Deli. Even with a shorter name the services continue to increase. The deli now provides lunch services at Oakland University Riverview School of Nursing in Detroit at 7733 Jefferson. It also provides lunch services at the Michigan Army National Guard Joint Forces Headquarters in Lansing.*
Morgan said Dollar Deli serves the nursing students four days and week and serves the soldiers five days a week.
The impetus for opening the business was to create employment for developmentally disabled/special needs people, she says.
“The mission has not changed,” adds Morgan. “We are steadfast in the desire to create jobs for special needs people.”
Dollar Deli serves bazaar vendors as well as patrons. The restaurant specialties are sandwiches, salads and box lunches. The box lunches include a sandwich, salad and coleslaw. “Our meals are inexpensive,” Morgan said. “Box lunches range from $4.50 to $6.50.”
Morgan said Dollar Deli is growing. “We’re moving forward with our expansion goals, which are a commercial kitchen/culinary arts school for developmentally disabled persons,” Morgan said. “I’ve applied for DBE status and hope to open a Dollar Deli at Metro Airport.”
Morgan said she has a passion for what she does.
“It is the only way Dollar Deli could have lasted,” she said.
Although it has taken time to develop, Morgan says she has been willing to put in time and work. “When I opened Dollar Deli, I quickly visualized it beyond these doors (Russell Bazaar) and that’s what I tell other vendors here,” she said. “Even though you’re here, you’re going to have to promote yourself.”
*Dollar Deli is no longer located in the Russell Bazaar or Oakland University. It has been our pleasure to serve you! You can contact the Lansing location at 517.481.7969