Delilah “Dee” Norman had always dreamed of opening a little coffee shop, one with different coffees and desserts that had a specific atmosphere to make customers feel at home. For 20 years she worked in the printing business while closely carrying the coffee shop dream with her.
After a divorce, Norman split from the business and decided she would give her ambition a try. Fortunately, her little dream turned into a big reality. Dee’s Deli & Coffee Shop is now in the Grothway Square off Main Street and is popular with UMHB students, faculty and staff as well as the community.
“Instead of doing just coffee, I wanted to do some sandwiches as well. And it seems as if they (sandwiches) have taken off more so than the coffee has,” she said.
Her family has been in the food business, so she knew it would be hard work “the hardest work that I would ever do,” but the passion for her dream overlooked the doubts. Over a year’s time she examined what it took to run a food business.
“I researched different sandwiches and coffees,” she said. “When I started I didn’t know what the difference between a cappuccino and a lattè was.”
Norman learned what seemed like a simple cup of coffee, lattè or cappuccino didn’t come from just “pushing a button.” Luckily, one of her friends owns a coffee shop in Hamilton, Texas, and trained her how to make the perfect cup. This was a big step for Norman.
“So, I took a chance and opened up shop.”
As a result, Dee’s Deli & Coffee Shop began business in 2007.
“After she trained me, we made an agreement that if she ever opened up a sandwich and coffee shop, I would give her my secret recipes, and she recently did,” Norman said.
Hamilton’s new deli is a hit just as Dee’s Deli is in Belton.
Norman gets asked quite a bit how she came up with the recipes. Through all the research, she believes God had his hand in perfecting the secret sauces.
“It wasn’t just me that mixed all this stuff together. It all just seemed to work, especially with the smoked turkey, bacon and cheddar panini, which is our top selling panini made with my chipotle mayo,” she said.
New additions have been made to the menu.
“As customers came in, they wanted to know about wraps, so I basically turned the sandwiches into wraps.”
Aside from homemade sandwiches, Norman also prepares a variety of soups by hand every night.
The work she puts in for her customers pays off for her.
“I have a hankering for hole in- the-wall restaurants with a friendly neighborhood atmosphere and food that has that authentically fresh, homemade taste and feel to it,” sophomore theology and philosophy major Curtis Landrum said “No matter where I am at in the world, I look for a place like Dee’s Deli to enjoy solid, wholesome
Because of Norman’s regulars, she believes “this is the most enjoyable work” she has ever done.
Alongside Norman is her new husband, Jimmy.
“I told him I had always wanted to do this, and he said immediately ‘I’m right here beside you and will be with you every step of the way.’”
The couple found a space and worked as a team to make it into a deli.
“Jimmy built my counters, and we put that floor in together on our hands and knees and painted.” To show his new bride he doesn’t stray from his word, Jimmy comes to the deli every day during his own lunch hour to operate the register.
“He is totally committed to making this work.” Business is booming for the two. Loyal customers are speaking out to family, friends and coworkers about the eatery.
As the weather starts cooling down, Norman said he would like for people to keep her shop in mind. She wants her customers to enjoy the deli coffee, breakfast, homemade soups and sandwiches, all of which will warm their bones.
“I want people to feel at home when they come here,” she said.
One employee, junior nursing major Jacquie Case, believes the deli is different from any other Belton restaurant.
“Dee always has a smile on her face and takes the time to get to know our customers,” Case said. Norman cares for her many customers.
“For me, food, family and sitting around the table eating is where all things happen,” Norman said, “That’s what brings families closer together.”