Friday, August 13, 2010

New Bakery Restaurant is Coming to Downtown Owensboro

Diamond Delights Cafe & Bakery plans to move from downtown Henderson to downtown Owensboro later this month.

Al Gendek, who owns the 12-year-old business with his wife, Marva, said he hopes to be open for business at 222 Allen St. within two weeks.

It's a homecoming of sorts for the Gendeks.

He came to Owensboro in 1974 as a news reporter for WVJS-AM and Channel 2 News, a local cable news channel that went on the air that year.

Later, Gendek worked as a reporter for WGBF-AM and Evansville TV channels 7 and 25 before starting the cafe and bakery in 1998.

"My wife and I were married on the Kentucky Wesleyan (College) campus," he said Monday. "We lived in Owensboro until the mid-1980s. I commuted to Evansville to work."

In May, the Gendeks' son, Christopher, graduated from KWC.

"We've been coming to Owensboro a lot during the past four years," Gendek said. "We like what we've seen. I've been in contact with (Downtown Development Director) Fred Reeves for a year to a year-and-a-half."

"The most exciting thing to me is we're getting another food establishment downtown with a unique component," Reeves said. "He's offering something unique for downtown."

Gendek said he and his wife have visited a number of businesses downtown to study the location.

"We were impressed with the investments the city and county are making downtown," he said. "And all the businesses we talked to seem to be doing good. The location is close to the Judicial Center, the Courthouse, City Hall and banks."

The 110-year-old building at 222 Allen has housed Skeetor's Restaurant, the Greyhound bus station, Dan's Dawgs and Sunlite Music in the past two decades.

Leo Portaluppi, owner of City Subs & Salads, which has two locations in the city, bought the building at auction in June, saying he had plans to open a third location there.

Portaluppi could not be reached for comment Monday.

But Gendek said he's finalizing a lease with Portaluppi this week. He said he's been looking at the building for almost a year.

"That's the location he's wanted from Day One," Reeves said.

Gendek said a survey last spring by the Public Life Foundation of Owensboro that asked people what their ideal downtown would include helped with his decision to move to Owensboro.

A bookstore was the top choice with 199 votes, followed by 175 votes for a wine and cheese store and 161 for a bakery.

The cafe-bakery expects to get 60 to 75 percent of its business from the restaurant side and the rest from the bakery.

The menu will include pastries, muffins, sweets, cakes, biscuits and gravy, quiche, hot sandwiches, soups and salads with an emphasis on seafood on Fridays.

Hours will be 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Thursday; 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Fridays; and 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Saturdays.

Gendek said he, his wife and son will work there, two employees are transferring from Henderson and he'll probably hire four to six people here.

The restaurant will likely seat 30 to 50 people, he said.

"But we plan to focus on carryout and delivery to downtown offices," Gendek said.

The cafe-bakery will also focus on catering, he said.

During the ice storm in January 2009, Diamond Delights catered meals for 255 Kenergy contract employees who were working long hours to repair damaged power lines for several days, Gendek said.

"We toyed with the idea of having two locations -- one in Henderson and one in Owensboro," he said. "But we decided to move everything to Owensboro. We're planning on commuting from Henderson, but our son wants us to move to Owensboro."

Reeves said he's not expecting any immediate announcements of new downtown businesses.

"But I'm very encouraged with conversations I've been having on a really good project that we hope comes through," he said.

Keith Lawrence, 691-7301,