Despite the odds, George Lyles maintains his inner-city eatery with fresh food and homespun recipes
Published: March 23, 2011
There are several shelters, soup kitchens and food pantries nearby, but evidently the food at the Turkey Grill is so tasty that beggars can indeed be choosers. So they come here and take a chance on getting someone to buy them their preferred meal.
Burglars seem to favor it too. The security camera once caught a man breaking in, but then taking his time to sit on the counter and enjoy a piece of homemade cake before tearing up the register and leaving out the back door.
Good food speaks for itself, apparently.
The freedom being in Detroit offers comes with a price, and the wildcard atmosphere here that allows someone to successfully sell something as unusual as turkey neck stew can also bring panhandlers in the dining room, or a cake-eating burglar, or make bulletproof glass regretfully necessary. And when you're trying to draw new customers to your place, those little things can be disheartening obstacles.
"In a way, I can understand when a suburbanite comes in and they're not used to the rough edges and a few other things," he says. "They see the glass and I think the inner-city people are sometimes a little rough around the edges. But it's not really as bad as a lot of people seem to think it is."
After 15 years, he's learned to deal with the bad things the same way anyone who stays in the city deals with the bad things — holding to the belief that it won't always be this way. Detroit, he's convinced, will someday, somehow get better. Because for every panhandler he patiently endures, there are still dozens of regular folks lining up for all things turkey. And so he stays, waiting for the change he's convinced will come.
"I do like this location. I think it's on the rebound, and that's because of a lot of things I see going on around me here," he says. "That's just my feeling. It's on its way back."
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