Local Spotlight

Hungry Suit Wants You to Eat Like a Human

The motto at downtown start-up Hungry Suit is "Eat like a human." And by "human," the company clearly means the kind of human who orders room service in fancy hotels -- not that I'm complaining.

The photo above shows a typical lunch spread that Hungry Suit delivers to downtown office denizens Monday through Friday: a real napkin, real dishes, real glasses, even real salt and pepper shakers, all on a wooden tray with a bamboo placemat.

"And we always include a toy," laughs owner Amy Harrison, who founded the company with her husband Don. This week, it's a balsa wood paddle ball set; for NCAA, she says, "we gave out little blow-up basketballs."

Nothing on the tray is disposable, Harrison says: "We're very eco-friendly." And although the lunch might look fancy, the entire price -- including delivery -- is only $8.95. I was astonished at the price, and I wasn't alone, apparently.

Harrison just smiles. "We try stay cost-competitive," she says. $8.95 for all of this -- including pickup of the tray later on -- is more than competitive, especially downtown. Harrison says she owes at least part of those savings to Kitchen Incubator on Fannin, where she rents a commercial kitchen and preps her meals each day.

"It's really allowed us to cut down on overhead, as opposed to having at $10,000 build-out," she says. And Kitchen Incubator's convenient location certainly doesn't hurt, allowing Harrison and her staff to quickly send out meals from the kitchen after the daily 10:30 a.m. cut-off for orders.

Although the company started out slow in the Lyric Center, word got out about the lunch delivery service through an article in the Houston Business Journal. Harrison was soon swamped with orders from hungry downtown dwellers who, she says, begged her to expand her delivery area. A few months later, the business is doing so well that Harrison hopes to soon branch out into other areas of town: The Woodlands, Sugar Land and -- most importantly -- the Medical Center.

The menu is short and sweet, but Harrison likes it that way. The food is fresh and healthy, and the quality is more easily maintained by offering a smaller selection. Sandwiches are always paired with salads and fresh fruit, along with homemade salad dressings and a daily dessert. In a nod to her husband's Massachusetts roots, Hungry Suit even offers a Fluffernutter sandwich.

"Customers love that one," she laughs. "They even call and ask if we can put bananas on it."

You can place your Hungry Suit order online via their website or, if you're still living in 1995, via fax. It doesn't matter if you're the only one in the office ordering, either; Hungry Suit will deliver to one person or 100 people, with no delivery charge. Just the polite request for a gratuity. And who doesn't tip on a delivery? Especially one that comes with dessert and a paddle ball set.

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Katharine Shilcutt