Yellow Deli opens marks trip to the past

Chattanooga Times Free Press/May 18, 2008

After quietly opening their doors six weeks ago, owners of the Yellow Deli flung them wide open today with a grand opening celebration on the 35th anniversary of their first Chattanooga establishment.

Complete with Israeli folk dancing, live music, free food and group singing, members of the communal Christian sect the *Twelve Tribes* welcomed former members, visitors and curious passers by to their new location at 737 McCallie Ave.

"It’s not the same as a high school reunion," said founding member Pat Sheldon. "It’s a reunion of the heart."

The original Yellow Deli opened in 1973 on Brainerd Road. For the next decade, the group stirred up controversy and were labeled by many as a cult. By 1984, most members left Chattanooga and headed to Vermont to start up a similar community.

Though their beliefs of communal living, loving everyone and disciplining their children have not changed, leaders say this time they believe Chattanooga is ready for them.

"All along we had in our hearts to come back here," said Eddie Wiseman, an original Chattanooga member. "We’ve gotten an overwhelming response from people. They would say, ‘Please come back. Where did you go?’ We had many, many people asking us to come back."

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