A sold-out crowd filled the dining room of Soul Café inside the Friendship Circle Farber Center in West Bloomfield Jan. 14 for the café’s first-ever Sunday dinner. It was an exciting start to a new tradition that diners have been waiting for.
Soul Café is the only dairy, full-service kosher restaurant in Michigan. Several pop-up dinners were wildly successful and staff members decided the time was right to extend Sunday hours and serve dinner from 5-8 p.m. each week.
“We have a lot of people who can’t make it to breakfast and lunch and wanted to come to the Soul Café,” says Shalom Shomer, director of Kosher Operations for the Epicurean Group, which runs the café. “We saw that dinner was a great opportunity. We are a very family-oriented restaurant and Sunday night was the perfect fit.”
Located at 5586 Drake Road, Soul Café offers an extensive menu that includes gourmet soups and salads, sandwiches, pizzas, pastas, Starbuck’s coffee, desserts and more in a bright, open setting with a large community table, fireplace and outdoor seating.
The Sunday dinner menu includes an ancient grain salad with sweet potato, caramelized onions, green apple, seeds, dates, greens and silan vinaigrette, wild mushroom and roasted garlic pizza, winter squash lasagna, house veggie burger, dulce de leche cheesecake and more. Items range from $5-$25.
“We have standard items that will be seen on each menu,” Shomer explains. “Each week, we’ll also feature five different dishes that will reflect a theme. Our theme for opening night was ‘comfort food.’”
Soul Café has been building a loyal following since it opened in 2016 — for its food and its mission. The café is part of Friendship Circle’s Soul Projects, which focus on providing vocational opportunities for adults with special needs. Trainees learn the skills of food prep, dishwashing, assisting hosts and servers, plus teamwork and communication.
Sean Ropp, 25, of West Bloomfield is one of Soul Café’s success stories. He joined the team in 2017 and was recently hired fulltime by the Epicurean Group.
“I thought the job training was really fun and challenging,” Sean says. “It was the kind of challenge that made me want to prove myself — that I can do this. I definitely liked how easygoing people were in helping. I could rely on them when things got tough.”
Sean says he can’t believe how much he’s grown and learned in one short year. Kim Kaplan, Soul Café’s trainee supervisor, says Sean’s commitment to the job and desire to learn and improve served him well.
“We worked with Sean to build strategies that would help him remember how to do a variety of tasks and also communicate well with the team,” Kaplan says. “The job skills we teach are transferrable to many different work settings. Our goal is to provide a wonderful dining experience and life-changing learning opportunities. Breaking bread with us is good for the body and the soul.”
Soul Café is open Sunday through Friday at 5586 Drake Road, West Bloomfield. To learn more, visit friendshipcircle.org/soul/café or call (248) 788-7400.