Maybe some of you have seen the signs advertising a new deli coming to the 600 block of Vermont Street in downtown Lawrence. Maybe some of you even know the backstory. It certainly is an old one — like about 2,000 years old.
Plans call for the Yellow Deli to open at 619 Vermont St., the former Heartland Community Church building. For others of you, it may be easier to describe it as the building just north of Dempsey's Burger Pub.
I got in touch with one of the organizers of the Yellow Deli, and he confirmed the sandwich shop is affiliated with an organization called The Twelve Tribes, a group of believers who live together and share their possessions, much like some tribes did in biblical times.
"The Yellow Deli is owned and operated by a local group of believers who live together and share all things like the believers in Acts II and IV written in the Bible," Phil Patmon, a member of the group, told me.
They also make sandwiches, and quite a few of them. According to its website, the Yellow Deli has nine locations across the U.S. plus one in Canada and one in Australia. My understanding is they are all associated with The Twelve Tribes organization. The nearest one to Lawrence is in Boulder, Colo. The first one was opened in Chattanooga, Tenn., in 1973. Click here to read some pretty interesting history.
Although the restaurant's marketing tag line is "We serve the Fruit of the Spirit, Why not Ask?", the restaurant will just serve you a sandwich, too. (No, prices aren't from 2,000 years ago.) Patmon said the restaurant's menu will feature sandwiches made on bread baked fresh in the store, a few breakfast items, coffee and an energizing Brazilian tea known as Yerba Mate.
The hours of the business also are worth noting. All the Yellow Delis are open continuously from noon on Sunday until 3 p.m. Friday, which I believe goes back to the group's belief structure. Click here to read how The Twelve Tribes describes what it believes in.
"We want to be a place open 24 hours a day so people have a place to come when they don't have any other place to go," said Patmon, who grew up in the Kansas City area and has been a member of the Twelve Tribes for 18 years.
As for when the Lawrence deli will open, I don't have a very specific answer for you yet. Patmon kept his answer in a big ballpark.
"We want to build it just right for every kind of person to be comfortable here," Patmon said. "That will take some time. It took Noah 100 years to build the ark, but we expect to get this deli open before then."
It will be an interesting process to watch. I'm hopeful that I'll get a chance to chat with Patmon some more regarding how large the group of followers are in the Lawrence area and perhaps give you a peek at how they live their lives.
We'll see whether that comes to fruition. The Twelve Tribes organization has been in the media before. As you can imagine, the organization takes exception to how some people have labeled the group a "cult." There also have been media reports over the years involving law enforcement removing some children from Twelve Tribes communities. In all honesty, I don't have a good handle on the type of controversies that may have sprung up around the organization, but I know there have been some because the Twelve Tribes organization makes a point to note them on its website.
I'll let you know when I learn more.
In other news and notes from around town:
• While we are on the subject of sandwich shops, I'll quickly note that it looks like Lawrence is going to get its first Firehouse Subs shop. A sign for the business has gone up in the long vacant building in front of Home Depot at 31st and Iowa streets. I've got a message into who I think is the owner of that local franchise, and hope to report back more information soon.