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Come for the Food, Stay for the Friends

Carrabba’s Italian Grill on Big Beaver serves up quality food and closer community.

Article by Rebecca Eve Schweitzer

Photography by Kevin Shea

Originally published in Troy City Lifestyle

“People can get great food everywhere,” said Roy Clinton Richardson, managing partner of Carrabba’s Italian Grill in Troy MI, during the grand reopening in June. “But these days you need something more,” he continued. 

That something more, according to Richardson, is people. 

This year, Carrabba’s of Troy celebrates its 10-year anniversary. Additionally, the team celebrates finally reopening for both lunch and dinner seven days a week, something that had not been possible since before the pandemic. 

Many people know the restaurant chain as a place to find classic Italian dishes, but Richardson wants the community to know they have even more to offer. 

Richardson has introduced monthly wine dinners. These group events take place the second Tuesday of the month in the bar area. The four-course meal will be paired with different wines, and diners will learn about the pairs. Beyond the food, Richardson wants to bring people together. The group nature of the event cultivates new relationships and connections for all of the diners. In fact, he gives everyone a task to get to know somebody new. 

When Richardson came to the Troy location about a year and nine months ago in the wake of the pandemic, the community had started to re-enter public spaces. Richardson put that uncertain time behind him and focused on the future. 

“I try to surround myself with people that are happy and enjoy, what they do,” says Richardson, adding how he wants customers to feel welcome and connected when they come to eat.

One of those people, Erica Lewis, the Marketing and Catering Manager, joined in January of 2023 and has been instrumental in working with Richardson to connect with the community. Her position is a new one for the chain. 

Lewis focuses on building local relationships. “Our business community is wonderful!” she says. “I deeply resonate with the adage, if you help enough people get what they want, your endeavors will naturally be blessed.” 

According to both Lewis and Richardson, Carrabba’s seeks out opportunities to help local nonprofits and schools. Carrabba’s has partnered with Troy High School to provide meals. CARE House of Oakland County, a non-profit that helps to heal children that have been physically or sexually abused, is Carrabba’s 2023 Charity of Choice. Lewis also expressed excitement about working with Haven of Oakland County, which will be their 2024 Charity of Choice. 

Richardson says they’re happy to do fundraising events with other local charities and organizations to help them raise money by hosting an evening where anyone who brings in the event flyer will have a percentage of their check donated to that organization. 

“I truly feel that most people are looking for love, support and true connections (along with some good food) and this is what we provide as we work daily,” says Lewis.

Back to offering more than expected, both Richardson and Lewis want the community to know about Carrabba’s catering business.  In addition to traditional catering services, the new Carrabba’s Sandwich Bistro focuses on gourmet sandwiches. They also called out new happy hour offerings such as charcuterie boards. When asked about his favorite dish, the Tuscan Grilled Ribeye, Richardson mentioned that some people forget the “Grill” part of the name Carrabba’s Italian Grill. 

Ultimately, both Richardson and Lewis could talk endlessly about the delicious food, but they focused even more on their amazing team, guests and community. Richardson hopes Carrabba’s has a welcoming environment where everyone, returning or new, feels like they belong. 

“I haven’t met a stranger,” says Richardson, “just a friend I haven’t got to know yet.” 

“People can get great food everywhere, but these days you need something more.”

  • Catering Manager Erica Lewis and Proprietor Clint Richardson

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