Yellow Deli hoping to bring sandwiches and ‘fruit of the spirit’ to downtown Lawrence

Source: Lawrence Journal

Posted by Chad Lawhorn

January 8, 2014 .

Maybe some of you have seen the signs advertising a new deli coming to the 600 block of Vermont Street in downtown Lawrence. Maybe some of you even know the backstory. It certainly is an old one — like about 2,000 years old.

Plans call for the Yellow Deli to open at 619 Vermont St., the former Heartland Community Church building. For others of you, it may be easier to describe it as the building just north of Dempsey’s Burger Pub.

I got in touch with one of the organizers of the Yellow Deli, and he confirmed the sandwich shop is affiliated with an organization called The Twelve Tribes, a group of believers who live together and share their possessions, much like some tribes did in biblical times.

“The Yellow Deli is owned and operated by a local group of believers who live together and share all things like the believers in Acts II and IV written in the Bible,” Phil Patmon, a member of the group, told me.

They also make sandwiches, and quite a few of them. According to its website, the Yellow Deli has nine locations across the U.S. plus one in Canada and one in Australia. My understanding is they are all associated with The Twelve Tribes organization. The nearest one to Lawrence is in Boulder, Colo. The first one was opened in Chattanooga, Tenn., in 1973. Click here to read some pretty interesting history.

Although the restaurant’s marketing tag line is “We serve the Fruit of the Spirit, Why not Ask?”, the restaurant will just serve you a sandwich, too. (No, prices aren’t from 2,000 years ago.) Patmon said the restaurant’s menu will feature sandwiches made on bread baked fresh in the store, a few breakfast items, coffee and an energizing Brazilian tea known as Yerba Mate.

The hours of the business also are worth noting. All the Yellow Delis are open continuously from noon on Sunday until 3 p.m. Friday, which I believe goes back to the group’s belief structure. Click here to read how The Twelve Tribes describes what it believes in.

“We want to be a place open 24 hours a day so people have a place to come when they don’t have any other place to go,” said Patmon, who grew up in the Kansas City area and has been a member of the Twelve Tribes for 18 years.

As for when the Lawrence deli will open, I don’t have a very specific answer for you yet. Patmon kept his answer in a big ballpark.

“We want to build it just right for every kind of person to be comfortable here,” Patmon said. “That will take some time. It took Noah 100 years to build the ark, but we expect to get this deli open before then.”

It will be an interesting process to watch. I’m hopeful that I’ll get a chance to chat with Patmon some more regarding how large the group of followers are in the Lawrence area and perhaps give you a peek at how they live their lives.

We’ll see whether that comes to fruition. The Twelve Tribes organization has been in the media before. As you can imagine, the organization takes exception to how some people have labeled the group a “cult.” There also have been media reports over the years involving law enforcement removing some children from Twelve Tribes communities. In all honesty, I don’t have a good handle on the type of controversies that may have sprung up around the organization, but I know there have been some because the Twelve Tribes organization makes a point to note them on its website.

I’ll let you know when I learn more.

In other news and notes from around town:

• While we are on the subject of sandwich shops, I’ll quickly note that it looks like Lawrence is going to get its first Firehouse Subs shop. A sign for the business has gone up in the long vacant building in front of Home Depot at 31st and Iowa streets. I’ve got a message into who I think is the owner of that local franchise, and hope to report back more information soon.

Terry Lee 2 years, 5 months ago

Thank goodness – I was wondering where I could get a sandwich in downtown Lawrence.

Joshua Montgomery 2 years, 5 months ago

Here is a nice article on the Twelve Tribes and a boycott organized against one of their businesses in Ithica New York.

In reading other articles that discuss this group, its beliefs and practices, it looks like many folks view them as a cult.

That said, everyone has the right to exercise their religion and speak freely in our nation, so as long as they are not hurting others or engaging in illegal activity it is their right to open and operate a business here in Lawrence without fear of persecution.

I, however, will exercise my right to stay away from this business and other products from this group.

Clark Coan 2 years, 5 months ago

Open continuously???? Won’t be much business from midnight to 7:00 am, particularly in that location. But then again, all they have to do is make enough for the overhead and to fund their community.

Their menu in Boulder isn’t anything special.

Phil Patmon 2 years, 5 months ago

Hello Keith. This is Phil Patmon from the Yellow Deli in Lawrence. My sons and I were just reading over your comment. Have we ever met? I know it could be easy to write a comment about a supposedly “faceless” organization that seems so far away… But the reality is that my sons’ and my faces are right here in Lawrence reading your post! We have had a wonderful time so far of making many friends here in Lawrence and the reception has been warm and kind. I am a Kansas native, actually I am about as “Kansas-as-they-come”. So, I look forward to meeting you someday face-to-face. I’ll be at the Yellow Deli!
Warmly, Phil

Mark Rainey 2 years, 5 months ago

Phil, I don’t believe everything I read online, but there is some pretty bad stuff written about your group out there. Can you refute any of it in your own words, as a member of our community?

Clark Coan 2 years, 5 months ago


Is it true that the 12 Tribes believe that only their set of beliefs are Christian, and all other Christian denominations not legitimate?

Dan Blomgren 2 years, 5 months ago

Phil Patmon, You are obviously watching this thread with a response to Keith Richards yet you choose not to answer a simple and direct question from Clark Coan. Why is that? Perhaps something to hide? You have an open forum here to dispel untruths and clear the air so why the silence? Could it be the answer would only uncover your cult practices? So Phil we are all waiting for your reply.

And for the record you and I have never met, and I hope we never do!

Ryan Shumaker 2 years, 5 months ago

I would join a cult if it meant getting Firehouse Subs. Not really sure how these jokers are going to compete with such delicious goodness.

Rae Hudspeth 2 years, 5 months ago

Why Yellow Deli? We have a Yello Sub.

Rae Hudspeth 2 years, 5 months ago

Chad, there is a farming/furniture business, cafe and community in central Missouri as well, according to the main website.

Never mind.. the Yelp review from May of last year says they were closing to move to Lawrence.

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