If things go as planned, Arcadia’s Yellow Deli Bakery should open this month. After all the speculation, it’s a reality. It’s a spin-off of the famous Yellow Deli diners in American cities and some foreign countries. First the bakery, then a Yellow Deli down the road, its owners said of plans for Arcadia.

Walking in the partially renovated bakery on North Polk Street across from the Wey (city hall) Building, which of course is yellow, I was greeted with a friendly “hello” by Toshiyah and his grandson. The pair and dozens of others had worked for weeks cutting and assembling dining booths, the entrance counter, prepping the kitchen, decorating and painting murals. Famous for its cuisine of fresh goods, vegan or otherwise, The Yellow Deli (its official name) is rustic, reclaimed wood and a natural feel, the menu of salads, (make-your-own) sandwiches, desserts and juices, for example. Attentive service and atmosphere are signatures at these very popular diners. You decide that Arcadia is special, as the Yellow Deli Bakery nears its opening. There’s no firm date on when The Yellow Deli cafe/diner/restaurant will open.

One thing is for sure, though, the bakery is going to be a true destination point when they’re finished.

Customers entering the bakery will see something like a gazebo with shingles and thick wood countertops. This is where you’ll order fresh baked goods. Dining booths have the same rustic look and feel. To the left is a wall mural, to the right a beautiful macramé screen with the centered Yellow Deli logo.

The first Yellow Deli opened in Chattanooga in 1973. The menu was about healthy alternatives and was an immediate hit. Its founders were and are faith-based. The Twelve Tribes is an outfall of the counterculture movement of the 1960s-’70s. Members in Arcadia share a home on East Oak that is part of a historic tour during the holidays. These are welcoming and nice people, mostly families sharing work duties and a communal raising of their kids.

Bruce Carver is a local member of the Twelve Tribes. He lives in the community house a few blocks from the bakery. Speaking that morning, he explained that the Yellow Deli in Arcadia “will start out as a bakery. Once the bakery is going, we will expand into the building next door and open the deli.” The Arcadia shop will furnish baked goods to many Yellow Deli diners.

Brian Fenster is the baker at Arcadia’s Yellow Deli Bakery. He has opened several Yellow Delis.

“We are particularly interested in the quality of the grains we use,” he told me, “and the products we serve. For instance, we use whole grain, but it’s the Heritage variety, which has the genetics of much older grains, plus we don’t use white sugar; in fact, we avoid anything that’s been preprocessed.”

The bakery will feature a few sandwiches, sweet rolls, all kinds of muffins, sour dough and European style breads. In addition to traditional beverages, they will serve Yerba Mate, a Brazilian green tea. It’s the group’s signature refreshment.

Anticipating the late May opening, I stopped at the bakery last week, finding dozens of people toiling to get the Yellow Deli Bakery ready. The workers had arrived from around the country. The final phase is called a “push.” Younger people decorated, swept and ran errands. The grownups did the electrical work, carpentry, and were finishing an epoxy floor. It was well organized and in the end I’m sure they will get the job done.

Bruce wanted to clear the air about the Twelve Tribes.

“Our church started back in 1973 and we just wanted to love Jesus with all our hearts,” Bruce explained. “We base our belief on the Book of Acts, chapter two; ‘Those who believe work together and share all things in common,’ however we don’t share wives ... or toothbrushes,” he joked.

Bruce continued that “we do have a common purse; we all work and combine our earnings. We use that money to support ourselves. We want to be good neighbors. We know that our way of life is peculiar to some people, so we hope people will get to know us through the Yellow Deli (Bakery).”

Twelve Tribe membership, he told me, is from different religions and beliefs. Most stay but some decide that community life is not for them and move on.

It is apparent, however, these gentle people display the love of Christ in all they do, from the fine carpentry to the baking of bread. Hope to see you at the grand opening.


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