The mission of The Lunch Room is to prepare high-quality, nutritious vegan food, and to demonstrate the breadth and versatility of plant-based whole foods. The Lunch Room, when possible, uses local and organic produce, makes everything from scratch from fine ingredients, and emphasizes environmental sustainability.
The people behind The Lunch Room are Phillis Engelbert and Joel Panozzo. We are good friends and next-door neighbors who love to cook together and and feed people. We share a philosophy that “work” should be the pursuit of what you love and should reflect your values and interests. Our work embraces freedom, creativity, fun, egalitarianism, social justice, and community.
The Lunch Room began as a twinkle in Joel’s and Phillis’ eye in the summer of 2010. We began by cooking dinner parties and brunches for friends, featuring experimental vegan dishes. Our “taste-testers” would give us honest feedback and we would go back and re-work recipes.
In October Joel learned of an opportunity to hold a lunch at downtown gardening retailer “Pot and Box” and The Lunch Room was born. In one particularly productive brainstorming session, we came up with the name and ordered our signature cafeteria trays. We compiled an email list of 85 friends and invited them to our first “pop-up restaurant” meal. Following on that success, we organized nine more events. Our private vegan dining experience grew to include brunches and dinners as well as lunches, and branched out to four additional locations. As of mid-February 2011, we had served a total of 413 meals to 245 unduplicated individuals.
Just after Valentines Day, The Lunch Room learned its application had been accepted to be part of Ann Arbor’s pioneering street food scene: a downtown food cart courtyard called Mark’s Carts on W. Washington Street. In October 2012 The Lunch Room wrapped up a successful second season at Mark’s Carts.
We are now preparing to open a restaurant in Kerrytown! Watch for a grand opening announcement in June.