Cathie Anderson

Cathie Anderson: Taste of Fresno comes to the capital region with two restaurant chains

Embraced by diners in Fresno, two restaurant chains now are taking a bite of a bigger enchilada with new locations in the capital region.

The sandwiches of Deli Delicious and the burgers from Colorado Grill have won “best of” honors from the Fresno chapter of the California Restaurant Association, Fresno magazine and in other contests. Mohammad and Zohreh Hobab acquired one Deli Delicious in 1995, and they and their children built the chain up to nine stores. Then people began asking them to sell franchises. In 2009 they did it, and there are now 20 franchisee-run Deli Delicious restaurants. Thirteen others are in the pipeline.

The Deli Delicious chain arrived locally last January with a new store at 5550 Sunrise Blvd. in Citrus Heights. In mid-May, Hamid and Tahareh Karimi plan to open a combination Deli Delicious-Colorado Grill restaurant at 9213 Sierra College Blvd. in Roseville. In some ways, this pairing seemed almost inescapable. You see, Colorado Grill was founded by longtime friends of the Hobab family, Ali and Debbie Nekumanesh. The Nekumaneshes, by the way, also are Hamid Karimi’s cousins.

Just as burger chains such as Smashburger and The Habit promise better burgers than the fast-food outlets, Deli Delicious promises a gourmet sandwich that is a step above Subway. The Fresno-based company’s franchising agent, Nate Gilbert, said the company’s fare has been compared to sandwiches at Jimmy John’s or Beach Hut Deli. No. 24, the hoagie with turkey, avocado and Swiss cheese, is one of the chain’s big sellers.

Ali Nekumanesh, the business consultant for the Hobab family, told me Deli Delicious is destined for fast-paced growth: “We have doubled in size since 2011, and we are planning to double in size again by the end of 2015.”

Kickin’ it, on a co-op

Drexel University Sacramento is ensuring that junior Kelsey Katsura will be put through her paces, not just in the classroom but also at work with the Sacramento Republic FC, the region’s new professional soccer franchise.

The Sacramento campus has placed its inaugural class of undergraduate students in six-month co-op positions around the country. The co-ops are a 95-year-old tradition for undergrads on Drexel’s Philadelphia campus, but they are just launching here because, until fall of 2013, the Sacramento satellite enrolled only graduate students. Now it offers a bachelor’s degree in business administration to transfer students.

Katsura transferred to Drexel as a junior because she liked the idea of a co-op program. She had been a student at Sacramento State, but she had taken a break to figure out exactly what field she wanted to pursue. Once she decided on a business degree, she chose Drexel.

“It’s like a big family,” the 24-year-old Katsura said. “They have smaller classes, and I’ve been able to learn a lot, practical knowledge as far as how to create a good résumé, interview skills and just a lot of supportive feedback.”

Katsura is taking one class while working with the Sacramento Republic, she said, and this has allowed her to immediately practice the things she’s learning in the classroom. Her supervisor, marketing vice president Erika Bjork, said she’s found over her career that on-the-job training is the best way to learn. She was impressed that Katsura had worked her way up from veterinary assistant to office manager at Land Park Veterinary Hospital. Bjork also had worked in a vet’s office when she was young.

“When you work with animals, you become a very good problem solver because animals can’t tell you where it hurts or what’s wrong,” Bjork said, “so you have to do a lot of sleuthing and a lot of problem solving, and that is a practical skill.”

Bjork said she felt as though she got a hire who had great work experience, but she didn’t have to commit to employment beyond the six-month time frame. That works really well for a young startup like the Sacramento Republic FC, she said.

No joke, Tommy T’s is back

Tommy T’s returned last weekend with sold-out shows at 12401 Folsom Blvd. in Rancho Cordova, featuring “Mr. Box Office,” comedian Tony Roberts. Club owner Tommy Thomas said patrons thanked him for reopening the club. Thomas had sold his business and subleased the space, but when his successors’ operation didn’t survive, he vowed to return. “Last Thursday was our first night,” Thomas said. “We had a soft opening. We had about 80 people, and then Friday night Tony Roberts was the comic. … He sold out two shows Friday and two shows Saturday. It was so cool the love that the people gave us.” Thomas has booked plenty of comedians and his kitchen staff is preparing food, but he’s still on the hunt for a liquor license. He eventually plans to book country music artists for dancing after the comedy shows are done, he said, but his first performer just might be an old-school rocker. Comedian Shawn Wayans, who starred in “Scary Movie” and “White Chicks,” will go on stage tonight through Sunday.