Lunch at work compliments of Ruby Tuesday

Nathan Domenighini
From right to left, Ruby Tuesday cook Tim McKera, general manager Mike Sosman and servers Mike Garner and Emily Delaney are part of the restaurant’s efforts to bring free lunches to local businesses.

It is a nice surprise for employees at Morton businesses when a local restaurant arrives with heaping amounts of food to satisfy workers’ lunchtime hunger.

It is an even bigger surprise when those employees learn the meal is free.

The notion of goodwill is carried out by employees at the Morton Ruby Tuesday as part of the local business’ new “Lunch on the Go.” The program was created to soften the blow of the sagging economy among the local working class.

So far, the program has served three Morton businesses — Mathis-Kelley Construction, The Pumpkin Patch and Heartland Bank.

Mike Sosman, general manager at the Morton Ruby Tuesday instigated the program himself. It is not a corporate-wide strategy.

Sosman wants to get more businesses involved in the effort through the services of the Morton Chamber of Commerce. He said, ideally, it would be nice to get the program to expand and offer meals to senior citizens.

“Every market I’ve ever been in, I’ve been really active in chambers (of commerce),” Sosman said. “We started Lunch on the Go to offer a little relief to (workers) that aren’t doing so well in this economy.”

Sosman, who took over at the Morton Ruby Tuesday in September, has worked with R.T. Midwest for five years. He said the Lunch on the Go program can work as a benefit to local restaurants, as well as other participating businesses, because it creates a community relationship.

“In reality, we’re organizing a community,” he said. “We want to get the program together so that it will continue operating when I’m gone.”

So far, it has been rewarding for the business and its employees.

“The cooks really enjoy doing it because it’s going to people who will appreciate the food and not criticize it,” Sosman said.

Food preparation and delivery are carried out voluntarily by Ruby Tuesday employees.  The cost is absorbed by the local restaurant. And, though it is an investment, the benefits are truly recognizable, Sosman said.

“We’d rather have a good reputation than good sales,” he said.

Sosman said that even in a wealthier town like Morton, there are still plenty of people who could use a little help.

“In a community like this, nobody’s going to stand up and say, ‘I need some help,’” he said.

Sosman expects that at full strength, Ruby Tuesday will be able to deliver meals to Morton businesses at an average of three to four times a week.

Ideally, he said, he would like to get other restaurants on board to offer the same service to Morton’s workforce.

“We’re just building a foundation right now,” he said. “If we had four or five restaurants, that would be outstanding.”

Until then, Sosman said Morton Ruby Tuesday employees will enjoy being able to help out others in the community.

“It definitely adds dollars to the economy,” he said. “The ultimate goal is that we cannot just do businesses, but also get it out to the people.

“We get to see what the real state of the community is,” he added.

After delivering lunch to Mathis-Kelley Construction on Monday, Sosman has already seen the level of appreciation that can result.

“I wanted to take a moment to thank you for the lunch you brought out for everyone at Mathis-Kelley yesterday,” said Michael Baynard of Mathis-Kelley Construction in an e-mail to Sosman. “It really was an unexpected surprise, which the guys really enjoyed. The guys are already talking about coming to your restaurant for lunch. Thanks again.”