HANFORD – Chris and Denise White wanted to create a landmark eatery in downtown Hanford, a place that would build customer loyalty the way a chain restaurant never could.

"My idea here was to do something that no one else is doing," Chris said.

It looks like the Whites might have pulled it off with the creation of Rock N Roll Deli, which blends several elements into a uniquely local experience you can't get anywhere else.

"Everything is pretty much designed for Hanford," said Chris.

The unique blend begins with the fact that KFUN radio, a local classic rock signal the Whites launched in 2015, is broadcast from a small booth inside the deli at 102 W. Seventh St. with an antenna on top of the building.

The station's playlist is piped in through the deli's high-fidelity sound system.

Posters of rock stars, including Journey frontman and Hanford native Steve Perry, line the walls.

With bright red tablecloths and accents, the space, which was formerly a barbecue place called the Smoke Joint, feels like a classic diner updated with 21st century technology.

With six screens and a video juke box, the Whites have a set up that can play music videos on demand, broadcast sporting events (there's beer on tap) and more.

They've gone the extra mile to tie the deli into the local community.

Pastries delivered daily come from Sweet Palette bakery, also located downtown.

Chris said they practically fly out the door, to the tune of some 500 a day.

Many sandwiches and subs on the menu have locally derived names: The Sentinel, The Bastille, The Carnegie and so forth.

You can buy the Boar's Head brand deli meat and cheese by the pound.

Chris said he's hooked up with gym owner Marcel Walker, who is about to open up a fitness studio next door, to design a list of specialty sandwiches geared toward Walker's clients.

The Whites are also bringing a line of health-oriented smoothies specifically aimed at the growing number of yoga studios and fitness gyms in downtown Hanford.

Chris said they did everything he could to integrate with but not duplicate what other downtown businesses are doing.

For example, he could have gone with a full-blown coffee drink setup as part of the breakfast menu launching May 1.

But he knew that was already covered by One Eleven, the coffee shop across the street.

In a refrigerator at Rock N Roll Deli, there's a whole line of Fagundes Old World Cheese products, which are made at a dairy northeast of Hanford.

In a refrigerator display case, there's a line of Dairy Goddess products, which are made at a Lemoore dairy, and Rosa Brothers Milk, which is produced in Kings County.

The linguica, which Chris touts as second to none, comes from Lemoore Food Locker. 

For Chris, who has a lot of radio experience under his belt, this venture into restauranteering is a first.

But for Denise, the deli tradition is in the DNA.

She said several generations of her family have kept San Jose-based Chiaramonte's Deli & Sausages going.

"I know delis," she said with a grin.

There's no sign out front yet, but the Whites say it's on the way.

So is the grand opening event on May 6, which promises all kinds of specials and freebies.

All in all, things are looking good for the eight-week-old Rock N Roll Deli.

"We've been doing well," Chris said.

The reporter can be reached at snidever@hanfordsentinel.com or 583-2432. 

Outbrain