AJ's Deli at Five Parks — 8566 Five Parks Drive — hosted a soft opening on April 28, offering a pared-down menu to customers from 10:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. The deli will continue to operate under this …
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AJ's Deli at Five Parks — 8566 Five Parks Drive — hosted a soft opening on April 28, offering a pared-down menu to customers from 10:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. The deli will continue to operate under this provisional setup until its grand opening, which is targeted for some time in May, according to Owner Athan Miller.
Miller's name might be familiar to Arvadans — and with good reason. She is the owner of three other establishments in the Five Parks neighborhood; Steamers Coffeehouse, A Different Kind of Jam and Jack's Bar and Grill — the latter of which is located directly across from AJ's.
Aside from serving up a wide range of food, Miller's establishments are notable thanks to their practice of hiring employees with developmental disabilities. Miller has a background in social work with people who have developmental disabilities and wanted to provide a place of employment for people who might have trouble finding work elsewhere.
“It's something we've done for a long time,” said Miller. “At AJ's, we have a full training kitchen in the back and if employees have a misunderstanding, we can provide slower, extensive training and we know how to work with their needs. We're trying to break down barriers for employment.”
The training kitchen at AJ's will continue to serve as a learning space and prep kitchen for Miller's other restaurants, as well as its new function as a deli space. AJ's deli will strive to serve as a traditional neighborhood deli, serving up sandwiches, salads, coffee, breakfast and baked goods. AJ's general manager Jenni Heit said that the deli will also feature unique items like South African meat pies.
“We're going to have a whole array of deli sandwiches,” said Heit. “We're going to have a whole array of South African meat pies, which (Miller's husband) Jack brought in because he has a good friend from South Africa. We're going to do breakfast burritos and breakfast sandwiches.
“It will be a place where you can pick up everyday essentials, to you don't have to go to the grocery store to make dinner for your family,” Heit continued. “It will have that cozy neighborhood one-stop shop feel to it.”
Miller added that the deli will serve the community in two ways; providing fresh food for customers and building the confidence and independence of its employees.
“Restaurants are desperate for employees and people want to work and feel more confident,” said Miller. “If you take an employee that has a barrier of work and give them work, it changes their life and confidence outside of work and they can independently rely on themselves. In a sense you come here, and you get a deli sandwich and you're helping build someone's confidence.”
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