DALLAS — Home-cooked “grab-and-go” meals are the focus of Big Bellies Deli, which plans to open this month at 2925 Memorial Hwy.
Twenty-nine-year-old Kyle Emerick, of Wilkes-Barre, is the owner of the business, located at the former site of J&J Deli. That restaurant moved just up the road to 3101 Memorial Hwy. earlier this year, but Emerick isn’t worried about the competition.
“We put out a good product,” he said.
Big Bellies Deli is Emerick’s first foray into the restaurant business, but he has some experienced help. His father-in-law, Mark Flaherty, owns A Touch of Class Catering and CrisNics in Wilkes-Barre. He’s also the former owner of Beer Bellies in Hanover Township, which inspired the name of the Dallas eatery.
“This has been something I’ve always wanted to do,” said Emerick, who formerly worked as a foreman at a local lumber company. “I come from a family of entrepreneurs. This is a long time coming for me.”
He said the new venture is a “clash between a restaurant and a deli,” with sandwiches and sides one would expect from a deli, but also many comfort food favorites like lasagna, piggies and pierogies for dinnertime.
The 1,300-square-foot dining area can seat 48 guests, but the hope is that more meals will be eaten outside the restaurant’s walls. Dinners will be sold in microwavable containers in coolers that line one wall of the deli.
“You can grab them and go, pop them in the microwave and have a home-cooked meal,” said Flaherty.
Emerick’s father and owner of Painting Professionals of NEPA, Dave Emerick, who was busy applying wallpaper in the renovated business on a recent Thursday, thinks the concept is a great idea.
“Think of all the college kids who won’t have to cook,” he said.
Flaherty said the business will also have meals to feed a crowd, such as meatballs, sausage and peppers, and shrimp trays, ready to go as well.
“It’s all about convenience,” he said.
Kyle Emerick said the business will also focus on the schools in the area by having Dallas, Lake-Lehman and Misericordia University-themed sandwiches. Customers with a student ID can get 10 percent off their meals any time.
“We want to be a home for (students),” he said.
He said the restaurant will not serve alcohol in keeping with that family-friendly theme.
“It doesn’t matter where you are, you should always rally around your community,” he said.
An exact opening date has not been set, but Emerick said the business should be open by the end of the month.
Reach Sarah Hite Hando at 570-704-3945.