Afternoon Delight Values Tradition During a Year of Hard Changes

Since former owner Tom Hackett retired and the COVID-19 pandemic hit, Joanne Williams has taken over Afternoon Delight to provide a safe and pleasant experience for customers.

Afternoon Delight
Owner Joanne Williams and her team of employees have worked hard to follow COVID-19 guidelines as closely as possible. Image courtesy of Mary Racette.

Changes in operations and ownership this past year did not stop Afternoon Delight from valuing tradition. The downtown breakfast and lunch eatery has been serving the Ann Arbor community since 1978.

The COVID-19 pandemic brought operations to a halt in March 2020 for three months. During that time, former owner Tom Hackett stepped down and the business was left to his co-owner, Joanne Williams. She had to figure out a way she could reopen in a safe and efficient way. Williams has some added responsibilities since she became the only working owner and has less staff to delegate tasks to.

“I’m kinda being pulled in many directions but I do have a good career so I am able to handle it,” Williams said.

Keeping Tradition Alive

The Afternoon Delight traditions have been a part of Williams’ life since she began working there in high school. After six or seven years at Afternoon Delight, she left for about fourteen years when she had her daughter. In 1998, she came back and became co-owner.

Even though the business has been around for over four decades, Williams said not much has changed. There are things on the menu that she said have not changed and will not change. When Williams reopened she tried to revamp the menu by adding and removing some things. However, some of the items she removed did not stay off the menu for long. She ended up bringing back the Malibu Club and Turf & Surf sandwiches after they were heavily requested by customers. 

Afternoon Delight has accumulated generations of loyal customers. Williams said there are many University of Michigan students and alumni who come back to check in with Hackett and Williams every now and then.

“I see the people filtering back that I have known for years. It’s rewarding to know that everybody still wants to come back,” Williams said.

Afternoon Delight
The chicken and fruit plate is one of Afternoon Delight’s most popular menu items. Image courtesy of Mary Racette.

Necessary Changes Made

While many things stayed the same during this transition, Williams did make some changes to the business. Most of these changes were prompted by the COVID-19 pandemic.  

“We’re certainly well trained,” Williams said. “We are as COVID compliant as possible.”

Getting rid of the self-serve drink station and salad bar were some of the changes that were made. Removing the salad bar also made room for tables to be properly spaced out.

Online ordering is one of the biggest new additions. They set up a new website just months before they had to shut down and they did not get online ordering up and running until they reopened in June.

“It’s a huge blessing. I’m so glad that we had that new system and the time to figure it out,” Williams said.

Famous Food  

Afternoon Delight serves a variety of homemade classic dishes, including lunch sandwiches, eggs benedict, and quiches. 

The chicken and fruit plate is one of the most popular menu items on weekdays. This lunch dish consists of an array of fresh fruits and a scoop of chicken salad on a bed of lettuce. A bran muffin and frozen yogurt are served on the side. This pairing of sweet frozen yogurt and fresh fruits make for a refreshing lunch.

Afternoon Delight’s bran muffins are one of the things Williams said have not changed and will not change. They are always baked fresh and the flavors vary from day to day. Ask for it grilled and the warm inside is enhanced by its buttered and toasted outside.

Tradition is a focal point of Afternoon Delight as Williams has seen three generations of customers come to enjoy the menu items they know and love.

251 E. Liberty ST., Ann Arbor. 734-665-7513. afternoondelightcafe.com