Junior’s Deli

3685 Braselton Hwy, Suite 108, Dacula

678-889-2821

Open Since: Jan.2

Owner: Barry Richardson

Location: In the Hamilton Quarters shopping center located off of Braselton Highway in Dacula

Hours: 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday; 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturdays; nd 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sundays

Atmosphere: Stepping into Junior’s Deli gives the feel of an old-time deli with a modern twist — it’s changing into a barbecue place during the summer. Owner Barry Richardson opened up the store as a way to give customers the option to have healthy food.

Pulled pork sandwiches, chicken and brisket all will be cooking in a 500-gallon smoker before being served to customers.

“It is something that I love doing,” Richardson said. “There’s just something special about setting up a smoker, enjoying the warm weather and making some barbecue.”

The change is set to go into effect around the second week of April and will continue through Labor Day. Until then, wraps, muffins, bagels and sandwiches will be on the menu.

Richardson, who owns nearby Sculpt Personal Fitness Studio less than a mile down the road, said it was always a passion of his to get into the restaurant business.

“For the past three years I watched cars roll in here when this used to be a bagel place,” Richardson said. “I said, ‘I think I’m going to do it,’ because I’ve always known I wanted to do a restaurant in some capacity.”

Richardson said being part of the community is important to him. For the past decade, he not only has worked around the Mill Creek school district, but in February donated gift cards to Mill Creek High School for its school resource officer appreciation luncheon.

“I’ve been here since 2008. My son goes to school here and we’ve been here ever since,” Richardson said.

Owning a restaurant and a gym keeps Richardson on the move. On a typical day he gets to the deli before opening to work the breakfast hour, then teaches a few classes at the gym. Then it’s back to Junior’s for the lunch crowd before another round of classes.

“It keeps me pretty busy, but I wouldn’t trade anything for it,” Richardson said.

One of the benefits of having his gym so close is that clients can stop by and get some food following their workout.

“It works out well having clients come in and having the ability to eat something that isn’t processed and doesn’t waste the calories they just burned off,” Richardson said.

Richardson said grilling and making barbecue are two passions that got him into making food.

“In trying to promote a healthy lifestyle, I had to be creative with the items being made,” Richardson said. “I use family recipes that we’ve been enjoying for years and figured it was time to share with everyone else.”

Food: Junior’s Deli prides itself on the fact that everything on the menu is made before the restaurant opens. According to Richardson, employees arrive as early as 3:45 a.m. or stay late the night before making sure that the dough is prepared for the bagels and sandwich bread as well as making batter for the muffins.

“Everything you see here is made in-house,” Richardson said. “We come early, stay late and make sure that this food is served right.”

With a variety of choices from breakfast bagels and muffins to sandwiches, soups and wraps, Richardson wanted to craft a menu that would fill people up but not leave them sluggish.

“Being a gym owner, I wanted to make sure that people got a healthy meal,” Richardson said. “It’s not just about how many calories the food has, but the quality of the calories that people were getting. Having a big client base, I had people that couldn’t eat certain things and thought I could provide them with a menu they could enjoy.”

When you think of a deli, healthy sometimes isn’t the first thing that comes to mind with items like sandwiches loaded with carbohydrates. One way that Junior’s Deli gets around the high carbs is by offering spinach wraps in addition to traditional wheat and flour wrap choices.

“We’ve got a fit menu for people coming from the gym that need to refuel. They have options,” Richardson said. “We’ve got low fat, low carb, high protein and calorie restricting options as well. And of course we’ve got all the good stuff for people that want to just enjoy the deli without worrying about the calories.”

In the first few months of business, Junior’s Deli has given the local area muffin fever. The top-selling items are a classic blueberry muffin and the zucchini muffin.

“You’d be surprised at the zucchini and muffin combination,” Richardson said. “A lot of people are digging it and it’s really good for you as well.”

If you’re there for lunch and hungry, Richardson recommends selecting the Italian Club or Junior’s Club, two of the deli’s largest sandwiches. The club sandwich is piled high with an assortment of meats such as turkey breast, roast beef and Junior’s signature maple applewood smoked bacon, while the Italian sandwich substitutes the bacon for salami. Customers can also choose from a selection of cheeses such as provolone, mozzarella and American, and an assortment of vegetables like tomato slices, romaine lettuce, banana peppers, olives and onions to top off the dish.

Something you might not know: Although his given name is Barry, his mother’s side of the family gave him the nickname Junior, which is how the restaurant got its name.

“My mom and her immediate side of the family call me that,” Richardson said. “When I opened it up, I wanted to call it Junior’s to open my world up to everybody else.”