Not Your Typical Deli serves not only award-winning food, but a greater mission

W Rieth, Oliver Kinmartin, NYT Deli
Chef W Rieth (left) credited the consistency of his special-needs workers, like Oliver Kinmartin (right) for creating a great customer-service environment, which Rieth said is critical to NYT Deil's success. (Tom Blodgett/Community Impact Newspaper)

Chef W Rieth (left) credited the consistency of his special-needs workers, like Oliver Kinmartin (right) for creating a great customer-service environment, which Rieth said is critical to NYT Deil's success. (Tom Blodgett/Community Impact Newspaper)

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The Don Pastrami ($12.95) is a tall order once a half-pound pastrami starts the sandwich. "I brought a little bit of Cleveland to Gilbert, Arizona," Rieth said. "I wouldn't start a deli in Cleveland, but I would a taco shop, just as I wouldn't start a taco shop in Gilbert, but I certainly would a deli." (Tom Blodgett/Community Impact Newspaper)
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A secret method allows the soft, stuffed cookies to be crispy on the outside. (Tom Blodgett/Community Impact Newspaper)
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The Cubano ($9.95) comes from chef Vanessa Rieth's family recipe. (Tom Blodgett/Community Impact Newspaper)
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The Italian chop salad ($10.95) is large enough for two or three meals. (Tom Blodgett/Community Impact Newspaper)
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A raspberry bar goes great with coffee, according to chef W Rieth. (Tom Blodgett/Community Impact Newspaper)
Chef W Rieth might have been out of the restaurant business—the only business he had known since age 12—by now if not for a newfound love.

“The special-needs community brought my passion back for food,” Rieth said on the patio of his restaurant, Not Your Typical Deli, where he has found a way to combine the two interests. “Really, it’s a beautiful thing to teach with. You know, I love food, but I hated the restaurant business. ... There’s nothing great about it, even if you own your restaurant.”

But "Chef W," as he is universally known, has since found a way to combine his two passions, making NYT Deli as much a highly recognized deli as a job-training site for persons with special needs. About 60%-70% of the staff at any time has developmental challenges—most frequently, high-functioning people on the autism spectrum—but they are integrated with other workers.

“If it’s all special-needs [people], it really doesn’t do any good for them,” he said. “Yes, it’s a safe space for them. It is a cool thing, but if you want to survive in, for lack of better words, typical society, you’re going to have to learn how to work with typical people. Typical people are going to have to learn to work with you. That’s just the way it goes.”

The award-winning food is grounded in Rieth’s background from his native Cleveland, including heaping portions of recipes that trace back to Rieth’s grandparents.

Before opening NYT Deli, Rieth had been drifting away from restaurants and had been working doing food demonstrations and later running a commissary kitchen.

He began giving cooking lessons from the commissary to students with autism—a subject he had become fascinated with. At the urging of his partners, Pam and Chuck DePalma, and with his wife, chef Vanessa Rieth, as a collaborator, Chef W opened the doors to the deli with its additional mission in 2016.

“The first year was horrible,” he said. “But it was worth every minute of it. ... The reason we were doing what we were doing drove me to push through.”

Not Your Typical Deli

1166 S. Gilbert Road, Ste. 101, Gilbert


Hours: Tue.-Wed. 11 a.m.-5 p.m., Thu.-Sat. 11 a.m-8 p.m., Sun. 10 a.m.-2 p.m., closed Mon.

NYT Culinary Academy

Chef W Rieth has a backlog stack of about 300 applications to work at the deli. Instead of expanding the deli, he opened Not Your Typical Culinary Academy in August to teach special-needs students. Here is a look at the academy.

  • 10 students

  • 16 weeks of instruction

  • two instructors

  • four-course meal preparation for final

1430 W. Warner Road, Ste. 144, Gilbert
By Tom Blodgett

Raised in Arizona, Tom Blodgett has spent 30 years in journalism in Arizona and is the editor of the Gilbert edition of Community Impact Newspaper. He is a graduate of Arizona State University, where he now serves as an instructional professional in the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication and editorial adviser to The State Press, the university's independent student media outlet.


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