35, owner, Deli Ohio
• TRY Properties owner and general manager (2018 – present)
• Purchased “The Filling Station” at 15th & Woodland to be the future home of Walkie Talkie Espresso & Coffee
• RJRA Properties owner and general manager (2018 – Present)
• Purchased the former Refuge of Hope property to help open 405 Wellness
• Purchaser of vacant properties in downtown Canton to re-home nonprofits and businesses to keep buildings occupied
• Akron Canton Hot List Best Deli, 2014
• Canton Repository Readers Choice winner, 2018, 2017, 2016, 2015, 2014
• About Local Faves winner, 2018, 2017, 2016, 2015
• Canton Regional Chamber of Commerce member, 2013-present
• About Feast Awards winner, 2014, 2016
• Chose Canton to start his business because he saw potential
• Palace Theatre Dancing with the Canton Stars 7—Celebrity, 2017
• Downtown Canton Flea co-founder/host, 2015-16
• First Friends Children’s Soccer League volunteer coach, 2018
• Lighthouse Ministries Over the Edge Committee, 2019
• Stark Soup committee member, 2016-18
• Warehouse District Better Block committee, 2017
• Lighthouse Ministries board member
• The Canton Abbey board member
• Working to redevelop the Woodland Square area of Canton
• Virginia School of Massage
What motivates or inspires you to better the community?
My daughters are both my motivation to continually work toward improving our neighborhood and community. I want them to know that it is the little things that make huge differences. It is easy to point out what everyone else isn’t doing, but I want them to know that there is little room to speak if we aren’t being proactive ourselves.
What’s the most challenging part(s) of your job? How do you tackle these obstacles?
Currently, the most challenging part of my job is navigating the current times. The restaurant industry is always standing on shaky ground, but I don’t think many people saw this (coronavirus pandemic) coming. Being resilient, keeping a focus on our vision, and sticking to providing quality helps us keep our mission the same even if the conditions are different.
What are your goals/plans/aspirations for the future?
My goal is to continue developing the block around Deli Ohio, as well as Woodland Square, into something that brings the community together, supports locally owned businesses, provides opportunities for minority- and female-owned businesses, creates affordable pathways into entrepreneurship and tackles blight in our city.
Nominated by: Derek Gordon
Nominator says: “He is relentless about his vision for a better community and has a realistic approach to making this vision a reality.”