Local Delicacies: The Loomi Cafe offers an eclectic menu in Ann Arbors Kerrytown
ANN ARBOR – Andrew Stevick got off to a humble start with a food truck in downtown Ann Arbor, but he brought his principled approach to eclectic cuisine to the Loomi Cafe – the counter area he opened in Kerrytown Market and Shops in 2019.
Stevick’s Palestinian heritage had an impact on the Middle East, and his experience in South American restaurants on the east coast gives him a distinct, flavorful flair that compliments the hearty flavors that come with Middle Eastern dishes like Lahm Bi Ajeen – a sort of Lebanese meat pie – connected.
He used the success of his tandoori oven cart to serve affordable hand dishes with international street food inspiration at a reasonable price.
These quick and affordable meals make up the restaurant’s “batter” menu, including Salvadoran style pupusa, Indian paratha flatbread, man’ouche with imported za’atar, and the restaurant’s signature “cheese pockets”, each filled with a rotating ingredient or are occupied. Customers can also choose from a list of no-fuss lunch options, including burgers, wings, roast lamb ribs, and beans, around $ 8 each. That affordability element was an important consideration for Stevick.
“We tried to keep our price pretty decent. I’d rather have someone who can come here three times a week,” he said. “You can get a little fat and a doll for $ 9, three times a week.”
For a larger meal, customers can order from a menu with fully assembled starters, which are combined with a sauce, a salad and a choice of rice, a fresh roll or potatoes. Every week the restaurant serves chicken, pork, beef, lamb, seafood and one or more vegetarian dishes. Much of its ingredients come from local farmers in the market, and its Middle Eastern spices come from importers in nearby Dearborn.
“When I was in Rhode Island, you went to a Dominican restaurant and it was all in Spanish – you didn’t know how to find out,” he said. “Then at some point over a few months you got over your fear and found out, and it was a very special place for you, and that’s what it is … we create this experience for people to do a little bit its a bit more of a part of it than ordering online. “
For the time being, Loomi will only be available to take away. The dining area, which was once 35 years old, serves as a waiting area for pick-up orders that customers should place in person to keep up with the rotating menu. Stevick said the restaurant voluntarily closed for five weeks in the early days of the pandemic to limit employee exposure to COVID-19 in the narrow aisles of the Kerrytown market.
Though he says he might technically be open to personal dining if he puts customers in the waiting area, Stevick says he’d rather not force customers to queue in the high-traffic areas around the restaurant. He even had to remove the diner-style seating that he bought and reupholstered at auction.
The Loomi Cafe, 407 N. Fifth Ave. at Kerrytown Market and Shops, is open Tuesday through Friday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.
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