From left, Rudy Contreras and Leon Alchian plan to unveil the Downtown Deli & Market later this year. Photos by Frank Lopez
Written by Frank Lopez
Downtown Fresno is going to have a new eatery with a very appropriate name: Downtown Deli & Market.
The Italian style deli will be in the former Fine Print Plus Downtown building on Fresno and P streets, right across from Fresno City Hall.
Leon Alchian, owner of pawnshop Majestic Jewelry & Loan Co and Majestic Music & More, thought the downtown area was lacking in an authentic, Italian style deli. So he decided to create one.
Slated to open in mid-October or by early November, the 1,900 square foot deli will be able to seat 21 diners, and the market portion will feature as many local products as possible, including breads and Armenian pastries. There will also be side dishes such as pasta salads available by the pound.
Alchian approached Rudy Contreras, general manager of Downtown Deli & Market, who had been working as a graphic designer for local media company before he got laid off, to help him come up with a business plan for a downtown eatery.
“I looked around the area and saw the hospital, city hall, the courthouse, the police department — it seems like it is centrally located, which is great for traffic,” Contreras said. “What we are trying to do is create a downtown deli, something that stands out, something that people who live and work here can be a part of.”
Downtown Deli & Market is a finalist for the Downtown Fresno Partnership’s Create Here Business Plan Competition, a competition organized to increase economic development in the city’s downtown business district. The first place prize is $10,000.
The hot foods will be cooked and smoked on a grill in the parking lot, and then prepared inside the deli, eliminating the need for extensive renovations for the kitchen, and letting the smell attract nearby foot traffic.
The names of the sandwiches will pay tribute to the different occupations and landmarks of the downtown area, such as a Hamtrak Sandwich, a nod to the downtown Amtrak Station, A Code Blue sandwich to acknowledge the Fresno Police Department, a Firehouse Dog named for the fire department, and a playful jab at city hall with the City Hall Meatball Sandwich.
Though there may be around 16 different sandwiches on the menu, including more health conscious choices, Contreras said that they are trying to keep the menu simple.
Currently, social media, the Create Here competition, and word of mouth is the main form of advertisement before the deli opens, and their website is under construction.
The building is currently undergoing renovations, including the plumbing and electrical system, but since no ovens or grills need to be installed, the process of getting the building ready for business will not be too extensive.
The total cost of the renovations is expected to cost anywhere from $25,000 to $50,000, Alchian said, depending on what exactly needs to be done for completion.
Contreras is in charge of the interior painting and décor, which will have a more modern and sleek feel.
An attractive feature of the downtown eatery will be the parking lot available to customers, as many places downtown don’t have parking spaces, with customers having to pay for metered parking.
To make customer service more convenient, Downtown Deli & Market will utilize a Clover point of purchase system in which customers can order and pay online and get their order faster.
There will also be an app that is going to focus on delivery, especially for catered deliveries with larger orders.
Around seven employees will be needed to keep operations going once the deli opens up.
“The food is the key. We want to have a little ambiance too, and personalized service,” Alchian said.