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Meet Tonya Vukpalaj of Lettuce

Today we’d like to introduce you to Tonya Vukpalaj. 

Alright, so thank you so much for sharing your story and insight with our readers. To kick things off, can you tell us a bit about how you got started?
My family has always owned restaurants. I’ve grown up in the industry, and it’s second nature to me. My parents would take us to work as kids and put us to work. My brothers and I would dread it but looking back now, I am thankful for those experiences because they helped to form my work ethic. I worked for the family business for many years, but my husband and I decided that we wanted to build something for our children. Our children take such pride in the business, and it warms my heart to see. They are true naturals, and I cannot wait to see where they take it. 

Can you talk to us a bit about the challenges and lessons you’ve learned along the way? Looking back, would you say it’s been easy or smooth in retrospect?
I have to say that it has a really smooth process. Our Shelby Township location is on a Corner, and it honestly can be a bit tricky to get into the parking lot. We had more than a few people tell us before we opened that we probably wouldn’t make it. We definitely proved them wrong. From the day we opened our doors to now 5 years later, we have a successful little business. We have a drive-thru window at our Shelby Twp location, and when we signed our lease, we thought this could be handy. Little did we know how handy it would be when covid hit. It was a lifesaver for sure. We made it thru and managed to open a second location in downtown Rochester. We are nearing our 1-year anniversary at our 2nd location. 

As you know, we’re big fans of Lettuce. For our readers who might not be as familiar, what can you tell them about the brand?
Lettuce is a quick-serve restaurant. We serve salads, wraps, grain bowls, smoothies, and soups. All of our soups are made in-house by myself. Soups are a huge seller for us. Everything is fresh and made in-house. You can get a quick meal and it’s guilt-free. We have so many people that are on a short lunch hour, and they need something fast. That’s where we come in. You get a fast lunch, and it’s actually good for you. I have to say I am most proud of the relationships we have built with our customers. We know everyone by name and their orders. We have to remind them sometimes when they forget to omit something that they don’t like. They really like when they walk in, and we start making their food without even having to order. Several customers have my personal cell number to request soups. Whatever we can do to make them feel like they are appreciated and heard. 

What matters most to you? Why?
What matters most to me is that everyone leaves satisfied. I want every experience to be a great one for my customers. It’s taken me a while to realize that sometimes you cannot please everyone and you have to not let it get to you. Trust me, that one took a few years. My business is my baby. It’s a Labor of love that I put my heart and soul into. 

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1 Comment

  1. carol opie

    August 18, 2022 at 1:24 am

    Been a customer since you opened, Love coming in and ordering Soup and salad, everything is so fresh and delicious, your story is amazing!!!
    love the girl that has all the tattoos and beautiful makeup 😍

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