Who doesn’t like mom-and-pop delis? A guy named Matthew Corrin. He started Freshii in 2005 because he was sick of all the mom-and-pop delis in New York, where he was working for Oscar de la Renta. The fashion industry does not smile kindly on the regular consumption of thick pastrami sandwiches.
This was explained by Mustafa Hamade, owner of Ann Arbor’s first Freshii franchise, only the third in Michigan. A trim, energetic business grad of U-M Dearborn, Hamade says while he was getting his degree he was independently studying health and wellness. He’s scouting a location to open another Freshii on campus here, but this one is located in Briarwood mall, across from California Pizza Kitchen. The small, white lunch counter with photos of fruits and veggies on the wall isn’t the twenty-seven-year-old’s first sandwich shop. He also owns a Subway franchise in Livonia, which he is currently trying to sell. “I don’t believe in their product,” he says flatly. “Yeah, sure, you can go ahead and say that.”
He does believe in Freshii, pronounced “freshy.” Hamade doesn’t know what the second i is for. Maybe those two dots subliminally suggest something clean, healthy, and vaguely Scandinavian, like a smoergasbord? Or something you do after a sauna (the Finnish language uses double ii’s)? The Freshii menu is friendly to all kinds of diets: vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free, and regular old carnivorous, but you’d have to work hard to get something that’s not good for you. The chain, originally called Lettuce Eatery, started out as “ninety-eight percent salads,” he says, but branched out into wraps, soups, and bowls of various grains. Freshii also sells a one-, three-, or five-day juice-cleanse regimen: “A lot of people do this right after the holidays.”
Freshii (Briarwood), 995-3008. freshii.com