By M. Lapham
They say soup is a comfort food. If that is the case, the owners of Souper Bowl, are using the comfort they give to patrons, to get a taste of the American Dream.
Of course, while soup is in the name, and it is their signature food, with 10 varieties on the menu at any given time, it would not be fair to say it is a “soup restaurant.”
With other foods on the menu like burgers, grilled cheese, a variety of sandwiches, fish and chips and even salmon, Co-owners Brandon Horvath, Tony Hermiz, and Stephen Bussard prefer the term “fast casual.”
The two opened Souper Bowl at 32407 Northwestern Highway, in Farmington Hills a little more than a year ago.
The idea for a restaurant came when Horvath was a bartender at Mount Chalet in Royal Oak, and Bussard was a chef. The idea for a fast-casual soup place came later.
As the name suggests, it all started with soup. Bussard already had some recipes, and from there they grew their menu.
When the pair set up shop, they had a clear idea of who would be their clientele. Surrounded by office parks, there were plenty of people who would need lunch at least five days a week.
People in those office buildings have a problem, they often only get 30 minutes for lunch. That usually will rule out a traditional restaurant, and everyone is well-versed in the problems of a steady fast food diet.
There had been a large number of franchises in the area, like Potbelly’s and Jersey Mikes, and so they decided to go in a slightly different direction. Opting for more of a sit-down meal on the go style.
They use only the best angus beef, and the finest fish, to make sure they provide the highest quality available. All to serve the goal of having better food available to more people.
“You don’t have to pay top dollar for quality food at a good price,” says Horvath.
While some soup lead restaurants do exist, there were none in the area, and it is a less chased niche market.
The plan worked well. When they opened their doors, they started getting decent foot traffic almost immediately.
“(We) got a following as soon as we opened the door,” says Horvath.
While the early attention was nice, it was hardly all they had to do to keep a business as fickle as a restaurant going. Word of mouth was vital to their success, both the old-fashioned way and with social media.
Their presence on the review website Yelp has been a major boost. The restaurant even won an award for maintaining 4.5 stars, for its first year.
As of the time this story is written they have almost 90 reviews, and still maintain that high rating.
That isn’t the only award they the restaurant won, more important to their reputation, they include:
• Most Unique Burger at Burger and Beer Bash Detroit, with the Hot Cheeto Burger
• Most Flavorful at Bacon Bash, with Bacon Pasta
• People’s Choice Award at Temple Shir Shalom Chicken Soup Cook Off, with chicken tortellini soup.
The restaurant will take part in another cooking competition at the end of August, Taste Fest in Royal Oak Farmer’s Market.
They have also taken to Facebook to get the word out. Using social media in a unique way, they have three mystery soups every day. Those soups are posted daily on their social media as well as their online menus.
While all of that is good at getting word of mouth, the pride they take in customer service, obviously along with the food, may be what puts those words in the mouth.
The early success already has Horvath, Hermiz, and Bussard thinking about future expansion.
They have started to do the preliminary work and talked to a few people. However, they want to grow their business more before they take that step, which they say is still a year or two away.
Still, most restaurants go belly-up in only the first few years, never really finding success. These entrepreneurs have seemingly bucked that trend.
There are any number of reasons why Souper Bowl may have found success, and they have certainly put in the work needed.
However, the simple truth may be in what Horvath says, “We just have some really good soup recipes.”
A full menu, as well as hours of operation can be found at their website, souperbowlrestaurants.com