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A deli and café fit for royalty
Royal Deli 1
From left to right: Ray, Romina and Rodni Abdisho pose behind the deli counter of Royal Deli and Café during its grand opening celebration on Tuesday afternoon (CHRISTOPHER CORREA/The Journal).

Name of businesses: Royal Deli and Café, Café Rome

Type of business: Deli and café

Specialty: Gyros, coffee, pastries

Location: 3807 Crowell Road, Turlock

Hours: Cafe Rome open Monday through Thursday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., Friday and Saturday from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Sundays from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Royal Deli and Cafe open Sunday through Wednesday from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. and Thursday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 1 a.m.

History of business:

Siblings Romina, Rodni and Ray Abdisho have joined forces with Erika Neal for their latest venture in the restaurant industry. On Tuesday evening, the duo held a grand opening for their space at 3807 Crowell Rd. in Turlock, which houses the family restaurant, Royal Deli and Café, and is also the new home of Neal’s longstanding business, Café Rome.

The “Royal Menu” features chicken, beef and lamb sandwiches in gyro, pita, wrap or bowl form. They also offer classic cold cuts. Café Rome’s menu, meanwhile, is just as it was at its previous two locations on Main Street and First Street, serving up crepes, breakfast sandwiches, muffins, and, of course, coffee and tea.

The opening of the combined deli and coffee shop was nearly two years in the making. 

Royal Deli 2
Gyros are the big draw at Royal Deli and Café. They are favorites of the Abdisho family, who spent a year of their childhood in Greece (CHRISTOPHER CORREA/The Journal).

The Abdisho family first moved into the space that had been vacant since the shopping center across from Stanislaus State was built in 2002. In 2019, Romina first began her journey as a small business owner making pastries from home. She then moved into the space to open Royal Bakery and Market, a storefront for her sweets and a mini grocery shop for Assyrian cooking ingredients. While she enjoyed owning and operating the shop, she always wanted to do something bigger.

“It was just a lot for this area, where college-aged students just weren’t looking for groceries like that. And it was a lot in the sense that I had to keep track of the products a lot more for expirations and things like that,” Romina explained.

Being located right across from the always bustling Stan State campus, Rodni pitched the idea of a sandwich shop and an espresso bar. Everyone was almost immediately on board, especially Romina and her passion for cooking and baking.

The family came to Turlock in 1988. They are originally from Iran and had recently taken refuge in Greece to escape conflict in the region. And although they spent just one year in Greece, their love for the culture and their food remained with them forever.

“One year was all it took,” Ray said. “The food in Greece is second to none. We all fell in love with it and gained such an appreciation for it. In Greece, they care so much about their food. They put so much into it. It’s like that in most of Europe. So we’ve been making the food for years. It’s just so delicious.”

To be able to serve as many people as possible, all of their meats — chicken, lamb, gyro and the mix of doner and chicken— are all halal. They are slowly grilled on a vertical rotisserie roaster.

“We want everybody to be able to come here and try the food,” Ray said.

Cafe Rome
Erika Neal and her original Café Rome staff are back together in their latest move, this time across town to share a space with Royal Deli and Café (Photo contributed).

The primary focus of Royal Deli and Café are the gyros and sandwiches, but Romina is still baking pastries like her popular cream puffs. And while the family seemed to have the deli and baked goods down to a science, they needed some help with the proposed espresso bar. But as the saying goes, the stars seemed to align.

Under Neal, Café Rome had become a staple of downtown Turlock. In late 2022, she was forced to move out of her original space at 122 Main St. She then moved into Taqueria La Primera on 144 S. First St. until she and ownership agreed to mutually part ways earlier this year.

“Erika was looking for a new spot, so we spoke to her, we shared our ideas and we really enjoyed what she had to say, and we just said, ‘Let’s go for it,’” Romina said.

Neal explained that it’s been difficult having to update her customers on all her moves across town, but that they are loyal and have been following her regardless of where she goes.

“Like last time, people are still slowly finding out, and I hope they’ll all eventually find us and visit,” she said.

Since their soft opening last week, business has been steady, which has brought optimism to the group considering it’s the start of summer and only a handful of classes are taking place at the Stan State campus.

“It’s been pretty good so far. When they’re back in school, things should be a lot busier,” Neal said.

Ray believes that the space will be a hit with the community, not only because of the good food and drinks, but because of the unique variety.

“This is a spot where you can get everything,” he said. “You got your coffee and breakfast with the gyros and the regular sandwiches. It’s a space where you can get some good stuff and be comfortable in. We want it to feel like home. And it’s something that I think the community, especially the college kids, will really enjoy.

“I wanted something different like this in town. We’re part of the community and we see all that the region has to offer. And to be honest, I’ve looked and looked and I don’t seem to find anything quite like this. We needed something different. I think the community will like this.”