Few people in the Valley’s food and beverage industry can honestly maintain that they haven’t been affected — at least a little bit — by the past two years of economic woe. Then there are those like Qisai “Q” Putrus of City Market Deli, who will tell you that “economic woe” is a laughably inadequate term to describe the impact he’ve felt.
“We make gourmet style sandwiches,” says Putrus, “but there was nothing we could do when the financial crisis in Michigan started shutting down offices. City Market shops are set up in office buildings, so when all those businesses started going under, our customers left. People love our food, and we know all of our clients on a first-name basis, and that’s what keeps our customers coming back.”
Though there are few benefits of a down economy, folks around here are about to profit greatly from City Market’s cross-country migration from Motor City to the Valley of the Sun. The upscale eatery and caterer is getting ready to launch a number of new stores in area corporate complexes, and cubicle city has never tasted so yummy (though all locations are open to walk-ins off the street, too).
The concept may be simple, but it’s also intuitively brilliant: Business people see that large portions of breakfast and lunch at a price point ranging from $6.99 to $8.99, in a location that doesn’t require extra time or gas money, is a no-brainer. Apart from the killer sandwiches, City Market also offers an array of salads, sides, and cookies for rumbling corporate bellies.
But the concept means nothing if the food isn’t damn good. “There are certain things you need to know in order to make the best sandwiches,” says Putrus, “but the most important one is to use generous portions of meat and only use the best quality! We use Dietz & Watson™ meats and cheeses, and anyone who knows the business knows it’s a very high-quality product. Anyone can make a good sandwich, but to make a great sandwich you have to have the best ingredients. We want to know our customers, and for the 15 years I’ve been doing this, we’ve never had a person leave our store who wasn’t happy.” The formula for success that suffered Midwestern hardships is causing a palpable stir thus far in the Southwest. Since great food and smile-inducing service within walking distance from the desk is such a tenant-friendly amenity, City Market is also attractive to the people and companies who own office buildings. “So far, we’ve been approached by a number of landlords who want us in their buildings,” Putrus says. “They call us and we set up a meeting, and then they try our food. It’s really our food that sells us.”.