Luke & Lulu’s Café: your home away from home

Owner Kimme Bandoske said she’s “humbled” by the community support for her year-old café. PHOTO/ALLISON WHITEHEAD

Looking for a place to have great food and a good time? OU News Bureau reporters have visited some distinctive eateries in Oakland, Macomb and Wayne counties to learn more about what these places have to offer. Reporter Allison Whitehead visited Luke & Lulu’s Cafe in Allen Park, Michigan, and spoke with owner Kimme Bandoske

Tell me about the history of this place
It’s kind of crazy. It was just a dream. I used to own the Park Avenue Perk with a partner 14 or 15 years ago, and things just didn’t work. I’ve always been in the restaurant business and I felt like I could just give it another shot, so I finally convinced my husband to invest our retirement into my dream and here we are. Then the name. I just knew I didn’t want my name anywhere on it. I was going to call it Lulu’s Lunchbox, and Luke (Bandoske’s stepson) did the marketing side of it because that’s his background and Lulu is Peyton’s nickname (Peyton is Bandoske’s daughter). When we went to do the domain name and everything, there is a chain of them on the East Coast and it was all taken. So one day Luke goes, ‘What about Luke and Lulu’s?’ and then I was sold.

The food is made from scratch. Bread is delivered fresh daily. PHOTO/ALLISON WHITEHEAD

Describe what it offers patrons.
The biggest comment I get most of the time is ‘I feel like I am visiting you.’ I think everyone loves the personality of the place and the home feel. It’s just a comforting place to come. … I tell everyone that at the end of the day, it’s just a sandwich, but everything here is fresh and homemade. Everything is always made with love, which sounds super cliché, but it’s true. It’s hard to pinpoint it, but the place just has such a great personality. All the regulars know all these kids that work for me and they know me and my story. It’s homey.

Why would someone want to come here?
Word of mouth brings them in, and it’s always about the chicken salad, quite honestly, or the meatloaf. Everything is completely homemade from scratch. It doesn’t matter if it’s a day like today when it’s super quiet or a day like last Friday, when the line is out the door.

What do you do that’s different from other places like this?
Like I said, what I tell everyone is that at the end of the day, it’s just a sandwich. Someone will come somewhere for good service and mediocre food, but people aren’t going to go anywhere for crappy service and decent food. It’s definitely a combination. … We haven’t done any sort of advertising. All we’ve ever done is unlock our front doors.

Luke & Lulu’s Café opened in 2016. PHOTO/ALLISON WHITEHEAD

What’s the one thing everyone should order here?
Definitely start with the chicken salad because it’s our No. 1 signature dish. There is a little backstory about the chicken salad, the Luke and Lulu. I ran a small catering business out of our house, so I would make it at home. Luke and Peyton, or Luke and Lulu, would physically argue over it when they were both home. I would have to make it in two separate containers and put their names on them. They would have their own and hide them from each other. So you definitely have to start with the chicken salad, but then you have to move on.”

How many people work here?
We have 10 employees, which is more than we ever thought. When we first started, I thought it would be me, Mrs. (Laura) Scaggs and another girl. But ever since I opened, we’ve had 10 people working. Most of these kids have been with me since day one.

What does the future hold for this place?
Who knows? It’s so crazy. I tell everyone that I am very overwhelmed by the support. I never imagined that we would be where we are in a year. It truly humbles me.

Luke & Lulu’s Café is at 7706 Allen Road in Allen Park. (313)-389-2036. Visit it on Facebook.


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Posted by on Sep 14 2017. Filed under Eateries. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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