From dream to reality

Amerah Wright, assistant manager at Diamond's Deli, serves Barbara Bennett, left, and her son Andrew Ropicki.

AARON DAYE/The Gainesville Guardian
Published: Thursday, January 5, 2006 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, January 4, 2006 at 2:42 p.m.
Creating his own concept that he hopes to one day franchise led to the opening of Diamond's Delicatessen by a native of east Gainesville.
"I pray about everything," said John Green, owner and creator of Diamond's, 25 NW 16th Ave., Suite C. "This concept was given to me from God. He laid it in my heart that this would be the more profitable business to go into. Plus, I like hot pressed sandwiches."
Green said he spent five years researching the kind of menu he wanted once he decided to go into the restaurant business. He said the deli is named after his 8-year-old daughter, Diamond. Fast Signs helped him develop his logo and signs. The logo is a picture of his daughter that has been scanned into a cartoon character.
Green, 40, said he spent eight years in the Air Force and that his travels around the world gave him an appreciation of all kinds of food.
His distributor, Sysco, was very helpful in creating a unique taste for his food, he said, adding that he went to the company's headquarters in Jacksonville in early November to sample some of his menu items their chefs had prepared. His products are premium brands, including his cheese-chibata bread, kaiser rolls and Block & Barrel meat.
"I didn't want to open a business that catered to a particular ethnic group," said Green. "Eighty percent of my customers are Caucasian. Whenever I see somebody do something that is successful, I will try it."
He said he took notes from every restaurant he visited whenever he traveled around the country.
Green, who plans to open another location within a year, said Diamond's has been received quite well in its first two months.
"Absolutely outstanding," is how Green described the public's reaction. "I have had a lot of referral business. I'm doing business that new businesses don't normally do until they have been open for six months. Customers are just loving it.
"I'm elated at how fast the response came. A DCF (Department of Children and Families) employee I know told me her co-workers told her about the place. It's been a real sweet thing. Whenever you develop a concept and see the vision become a reality, it is unreal. I'm still basking in it."
The hardest part of turning his vision into reality was dealing with regulatory agencies, according to Green.
"I don't look at things as obstacles, because nothing will deter me once I get started," said the Eastside High School graduate who grew up in Lincoln Estates. "It's just part of the process, dealing with codes enforcement and the health department."
Green said he emphasizes customer service to his employees, and that even though he has what he believes is a unique menu, customer service is how he hopes to distinguish himself.
"There are places to eat all around here," he said. "You have to be able to separate yourself from the others. I will put my food against anybody's, but I want to make sure we deliver the best customer service there is."
Green is his own grill man for right now, but he also has four employees.
"I focus on a consistent good taste and brand," he said. "I don't want to switch up. The way your sandwich is made today is the way your sandwich will be made tomorrow."
Among the favorites of customers are the Jacob Backyard Burger, an all Angus burger on a toasted kaiser roll, Hickory Melt, Philly Cheese Steak, Everything BLT, Italian Combo and Turkey Melt.
Diamond's is open Monday-Saturday, 10 a.m.-8 p.m., and the phone number is (352) 372-0226.

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