Hoffman’s Deco Deli and Cafe: Taking a Bite out of Downtown Flint

Few things sound better on a cold winter day than a hot, topping-packed sandwich. Now on the Saginaw Street strip, Hoffman’s Deco Deli and Cafe has moved locations and is ready to serve up some lunch.

Nestled between Raspberries Rhythm Bar & Grill and Legal Services of Eastern Michigan Hoffman’s Deco Deli and Cafe started off as family business open for over 10 years.

Before the deli’s move to downtown, it was ran by Heath Hoffman, his father, and his brother. And it wasn’t just a deli either. It was also combined with an antique center–perfect for those who love to shop and grab a bite to eat after.

With his father retiring earlier last year and selling the building, Hoffman stepped up to take over the business on his own, finding a new home for the deli and reinventing its space. What was originally The Lunch Studio is now home to Hoffman’s.

Because the Lunch Studio was such a staple downtown, Hoffman wanted to make customers still feel at home when taking over the newly-vacant space.

“I kept two of the employees from The Lunch Studio and we also kept two of the recipes on the menu just to give their customers a familiar presence when they walked in,” said Hoffman. “It’s great to mix the clientele. Some were the same and some were new faces. It was a great transition.”

After closing the deal November of last year, Hoffman packed up and moved the deli in eight days. Now, open for roughly four months, Hoffman has a ton of ideas in store for the space.

Gaining inspiration from the new barcade, The Eberson, he hopes to create a place for people to come and have fun while also enjoying delicious food. Since the building is three stories, there’s a lot of room for expansion and activities.

“I’d love to add a gaming area, just stuff for groups of people to do whether it’s axe throwing or bowling or whatever it is to bring people down to Flint to do more than just eat,” said Hoffman.

As a business owner in the area, it’s important to Hoffman to give back to the community and shop as local as possible. Whether it be feeding community members during the start of the water crisis or making sure to get his ingredients from local grocers, he takes pride in his city.

“Yeah I’m a lunch place, but I really do love Flint and I love the community and I really want people to come and enjoy Flint for what it is and see it for what it is–not just come, eat and leave,” said Hoffman. “…I think the more you invest in the community, the community is going to give back to you.”

While Hoffman appreciates his time spent sharing a space with an antique shop, he is excited about this new location and journey as a solo business owner. Being a father to three young daughters, providing for his family and having them enjoy the space is close to his heart.

“When I had my first daughter I would bring her to the deli everyday. [I’d] bring her in one of those front pack things and we’d help customers and do all kinds of stuff together. Now that they’re getting older I can bring them back and [they can] start experiencing more,” said Hoffman. “Having them in this environment of helping people and making food, hopefully my passion will rub off on them.”

Partnering with a variety of organizations, Hoffman’s Deco Deli and Cafe has been giving back through a sandwich of the month for the past eight years. By now, they have partnered with roughly 96 organizations–all of which receive a portion of that month’s proceeds from each featured sandwich sold.

This month’s is ‘The Dreamwich’ consisting of fresh grilled chicken, crispy bacon, provolone, house-made pesto ranch, leaf lettuce and tomato, grilled on a dutch ciabatta. It is partnered with The Dream League Music Mentoring Program: a non-profit music program that offers lessons for underprivileged youth in Flint and surrounding areas.

It’s no secret that Hoffman loves his deli, his family and Flint. With big things on the horizon for this new addition to the downtown community, there’s no telling what will come next.  

“I love walking out this door and seeing that I’m in the heart of downtown Flint. Looking up and down the block and seeing all the people walking, it’s been good and I just know it’s going to get better.”


This piece originally appeared in the winter 2019 issue of The Michigan Times, released on March 18.