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Deli Delicious - A Central Valley Success Story

May 08, 2018 02:49PM ● Published by Richard Melella

Deli Delicious Sandwich Shops have been a Central California fan favorite for over 20 years. The local franchise has won the People’s Choice Award for Best Sandwich Shop nine years in a row and the accolades just keep coming-  Mohammad Hobab, the franchise founder and its visionary, has recently won the Small Business Administration’s 2018 Small Business Person of the Year for Central California and the Central Coast.  Earlier this year, the company was recognized with one of the most prestigious awards given out by the International Franchise Association (IFA) when it was awarded the prestigious Ronald E Harrison Award.

Central California Life Marketing Director, Richard Melella, had an opportunity to engage Deli Delicious Spokesperson Nate Gilbert in an insightful interview to learn more about the success of the Deli Delicious Franchise, its deep “cen-cali” roots, and what the future holds for this highly innovative Central California Business.

Thanks Nate for taking some time out of your day to talk about my personal favorite local sandwich shop, Deli Delicious. How did the franchise get its start?

The Hobab family immigrated to the United States from Iran with dreams of making a better life for their family. They decided to invest in a small restaurant called Deli Delicious on Blackstone Avenue at Bullard in the early 90’s. Their idea was simply to put heart and soul into everything they did from preparing fresh food to greeting guests inside the restaurant.

What prompted the family to expand?

They built and nurtured a following of fans and loyal guests and, in time, they expanded into a second location at Herndon/First. From there, the concept really caught on and the family was able to expand to a total of seven family-owned restaurants in the Fresno area. Since 2008, we’ve become a well-respected and recognizable franchise company.

Were there any early obstacles that needed to be overcome?

There were challenges, they arrived with few resources and, of course, there was a language barrier, but they had lot of ambition and a desire to create and to share their experience. The family  made it their mission to provide an excellent dining experience to the community. As with any small business, some of the initial challenges were financing and marketing and with Deli Delicious there was another challenge: involving the family in all aspects of the business.  To their credit, each member of the family has a unique skill set suited to the growth of the business.

Sounds like there was a strong family foundation that the company was built on- each contributing a special talent to the business.

Yes- Mr. Mohammad Hobab – was the companies visionary, Mrs. Zohreh Hobab – it’s heart and Hesam Hobab – the construction guy.

To Franchise or not to Franchise- That is the question that eventually arises when a local business starts to expand and become successful.  Was the decision to franchise Del Delicious always a part of the company’s mission and vision? What are the pros and cons of Franchising?

Franchising was not on our radar in the early years of Deli Delicious. The focus was simply to maintain our high standards of quality and service at the restaurants. Of course, as we continued to grow, franchising became a topic of discussion. In a franchise system, a company can grow quickly with cash infusion from franchisees and those franchisees bring their own experiences and expertise to the company. The process then is to be able to successfully transfer the systems and procedures that have made Deli Delicious a success, so franchisees can hopefully realize similar success.

How does DD keep the quality at such a high standard?

Our system is grounded in operational experience and we’ve hired accordingly so that each franchisee may benefit from our many years of restaurant operation experience as well as the dynamics of franchising at the Franchise Support Office.

Was the growth and reception to the company’s presence in the highly competitive food industry a surprise to the owners?

We’re overjoyed by the response we’ve received and the various awards and recognition. It really is a representation of the heart and soul that has gone into developing the business and the support we receive from everyone involved – from our franchise owners, to our guests, to purveyors, and to our franchise support staff. A total team effort.

What separates Deli Delicious from other Premium Sandwich Shops in the central valley? 

The commitment is three-fold: quality products, courteous service, and upscale dining environment.

It’s not just a sandwich, we’re offering to each guest a full menu of premium quality ingredients with sandwiches, wraps, salads, soups, French fries…the list goes on. We’ve recently been recognized as Best of the Valley – Best Fast Casual Restaurant 2017 by the California Restaurant Association. That award acknowledges the strides we’ve made as a company – from corner sandwich shop to an emerging well-respected and recognized franchise brand. We promote excellence in all that we do.

Deli Delicious, has won numerous “best of” awards.  Recently the company has been recognized with one of the most prestigious awards given out by the International Franchise Association (IFA) It was awarded the prestigious Ronald E Harrison Award. Please tell our readers about this recognition and why it supports the vision of the company’s mission.

Yes, we’re blessed to have been recognized with various awards and recognition over the years. The recent prestigious award from the IFA really speaks to one of our core missions; to embrace and encourage diversity amongst our employees and franchisees. Small business ownership can be a beautiful thing but not everyone has the same access to the necessary resources to start and maintain a small business. In our dealings with prospective franchisees, we provide education on available resources that may benefit individuals looking to start a business or buy a franchise.

A lot of community involvement?

Yes, the company is passionate about community support. There are a variety of programs aimed at fostering economic growth and business ownership especially for veteran, women, and monitory groups.  We work closely with SBA and other organizations to learn about these programs and be able to educate on available resources. We’ve sponsor countless school programs in communities throughout the Central Valley and support fundraisers at our restaurants. Deli Delicious is active in local and state legislation that may affect small business. We donate our time to mentoring students and individuals looking to educate themselves on small business opportunities and franchising at Fresno State as well as with SBA, SCORE, and other non-profit organizations.

What’s next for Del Delicious? 

We’re preparing to spread our wings again into new markets within CA as well as neighboring states. Our goal is to be recognized as the top regional sandwich franchise in CA. Our concept has proven successful and we’re looking for the right franchisees to carry our mission and our vision into new markets.

What is the most popular sandwich that is ordered?

Our most popular sandwich is Turkey, Avocado, and Sprouts with the works! That’s premium quality turkey breast, Ranch Raised and Hormone-Free, sliced fresh each day at every Deli Delicious restaurant. Choose from one of our delicious breads; white, whole wheat, sourdough, or Dutch Crunch and load up on your favorite toppings. Many of our guests are happy we serve sprouts!

That was and still is my favorite – along with the cream cheese spread that goes with it – I think its number #21?  I was a regular at the Herndon and First location back in the day. How many franchises have opened since the company expanded to that location?

We have 52 restaurants in California and 66 restaurants in development. Our newest franchise is in the Fresno Tower District.

Thank you Nate- for providing our readers with some Cen Cali history on Deli Delicious- Best of fortune and continued success to you and the company!

Nate Gilbert started working with the Deli Delicious company back in 1999, when he painted the interiors of their restaurants. A Fresno State student trying to earn a living, Nate literally “painted” his way through college. “Fresno State shaped my future,” says Gilbert. “I was introduced to college radio and spent 4 years as an afternoon DJ on KFSR which, ultimately, got me interested in pursuing radio as a career. Transitioning from construction to broadcasting wasn’t easy but I relied on the relationships I’d built in the community, starting with my favorite sandwich shop!” When Deli Delicious started advertising on local radio, Nate scripted and recorded their commercials, assisted with local promotions, and hosted grand opening events at all the new restaurants. After that time in radio, Deli Delicious (now Deli Delicious Franchising, Inc.) asked him to officially join the company to assist with franchise sales and local marketing.


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