Video: A Chat with the Co-Owner of Detroit's Russell Deli, Which Is Growing

November 16, 2016, 12:05 AM by  Allan Lengel

Jason Murphy, the son of a Detroit cop, started working as a dishwasher at Russell Street Deli in the heart of Detroit's Eastern Market while he was a senior at Cass Tech High School in 1995.

Nine years ago, while he still worked there part time, he and friend Ben Hall, who had also put time in at the deli, bought the place.

The Russell, which first opened in 1989, has become a fixture in the market, serving sandwiches and signature soups in a warm, hip ambience. The soups -- including favorites like black eyed peas and collard greens, tomato Italian vegetable and crushed lentil-- have become so popular that the deli now sells them in about 75 Metro Detroit grocery stores.  Russell Street Deli  also sell its own jams and has three food stands at Ford Field.

Workers earn what Murphy calls a livable wage, averaging about $15 an hour.

There are plans for a separate production facility to produce more soup, now made at the deli at 2465 Russell St.

But, as they say on game shows, that's not all. The owners have plans for a Corktown diner next spring called the Lafayette Kitchen and Diner on Lafayette Boulevard. 

Deadline Detroit stopped by the Russell this week to chat with Murphy.

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