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How Phillis Engelbert is Changing the Hiring Landscape

Phillis Engelbert, a culinary expert, activist, leaves an impact on her community through her restaurant the Detroit Filling Station
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Robert Read

Phillis Engelbert is the proud owner of Detroit Filling Station, the North Star Lounge, and Bakery & Cafe. Engelbert, an activist for numerous causes and a food lover, loves human connection. She recently came to Community High School and gave an inspiring talk. Her experiences, ideologies and thoughts really stood out to me in many ways. She is so magnetic to listen to because you could tell she is passionate about what she is talking about. Not only that, she is incredibly educated and knowledgeable. 

Phillis started off talking about how loneliness kills the soul. She found this out from Dr. Murphy, a surgeon general who found loneliness to be a killing, that he was right. Phillis believes Dr. Murphy’s thoughts about loneliness are moving and peculiar. Engelbert finds this issue affects many people and has created a huge problem.

“Loneliness is connected to so many problems such as mental health issues like anxiety and depression,” Engelbert said. “Anxiety affects certain groups even more than others, young people and the epidemic of loneliness is really front and center especially throughout the pandemic, and the after effects from the pandemic.”

Everyone experiences loneliness at one point in their life. That loneliness may be more severe and damaging for some, but it is inevitable to feel it in life. You may experience this when no one understands you or no one is in your team. It’s an excruciating feeling that according to Dr. Murphy and Phillis is an underrated killer. It deserves more attention. I love how she opened her talk with this thought. It was incredibly hooking and was something I didn’t realize was so damaging. 

Next, Phillis went on to describe what’s unique and special about her businesses. What stood out to me was how willing she was to give people a chance. Specifically, she allows recovering addicts and victims of substance abuse to join her team. This opportunity serves to employ people who are struggling and in need of a job opportunity. 

“So what happens is people go into treatment, where they have therapy groups, individual AAA meetings, classes, etc, and many of them move into transitional houses where there’s a structure and there is a built-in community right there and there’s accountability there for a certain number of meetings per week,” Phillis said. “And then a number of people who go into transitional housing apply to work at a price refilling station.”

Most restaurants wouldn’t hire someone who is struggling with addiction, but Phillis wasn’t scared of this. She has had multiple people come to her for job opportunities and she has seen many go on to succeed in life or chase what they want. This is so beautiful to me that she is willing to give so many a chance for improvement. 

Detroit Filling station is a vegan restaurant with phenomenal food. It has incredible taste and you want to be disappointed. As if she isn’t already impressive, she owns and helps run the Lunch Bakery & Cafe. Again, such good food. Recently she opened The North Star Lounge. Phillis had lots to say about what her new business offered and it didn’t disappoint. 

The North Star Lounge offers a lot, but is a safe space at its core. It provides drag shows, a LGBTQIA+ community, a space for love and conversing. It has multiple purposes and provides so much comfort for many. I love how The North Star Lounge isn’t a bar but rather a special place to gather. 

When Phillis finished her talk, we clapped and people left. I was left astounded by her impact and what she has done for the community of Ann Arbor. She has given opportunities, created places for people to gather, cooked incredible food for all, and gone out of her way to create a better world for everyone. As a result of ehr impact, I went up to tell her how much the talk impacted me. I told her how I loved what she believed in and had to say. Also, how I adored her passion and how she came to Community High School to share her knowledge. She bent down, smiled, and thanked me for being so kind and thoughtful. I was touched by someone who has done so much. I hope to achieve as much as she has in her lifetime.

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About the Contributor
Luca Hinesman, Journalist
Luca Hinesman is currently a Sophomore at Community High School and a believer in buying expensive coffees. When not in CET rehearsals or mock trial practices, you can find them reading books about revenge, catching up on homework, or hanging out with friends. Luca is currently in their first semester with The Communicator and is excited to contribute their ideas this year!

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