The Family Tradition
The Family Tradition

Deb's Ice Cream & Deli is a story of a family business tradition that shows no signs of weakening or wearing out.

Deb's father, Emil Allick a second generation Lebanese-American, joined in trade other members of that ethnic community in Cedar Rapids when he first transitioned the family into food service in 1964, opening Emil's, at 310 Third St. SE, downtown. Deb, her older brother and sister all spent their share of adolescence working behind the counters, and cleaning tables and dishes. Emil's was taken over by brother David in 1976. David and his father moved Emi's in June 1979 to the Downtown YMCA on First Avenue SE,, where they were able to expand their effort and the number of people they were serving. Emil's remained there until July 2003, when the YMCA was slated for demolition.

Forced to move, Emil's relocated into the basement of the US Bank building. Operating from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays, Emil's was viewed as an important asset to the building's professional environment which could benefit from a place for drinks, food and meetings without leaving the building. The deli's focus, as with Deb's, has been on fresh, affordable, healthy sandwiches and salads made from scratch, fresh everyday. Having a similar family business just a block down the street has assisted each business as they have need of greater oven capacity, or catering serving dishes, or fresh ingredients when weather or time are not cooperating.
Water in the Basement

When Emil's located into the basement of the US Bank building, the building had never had any kind of 'issue' with water in the basement, even with the 1993 floods. Iowa had passed through a 500-year event with the flooding of 1993, and given many 500-year events can really happen in one's lifetime without one's name being...Moses? So, a little water on the floor from saturated soils or sewage back-up...but nothing to make one worry...really.


Then June 11, 2008 happened. Maybe it was a 1000-year event, or 2000-year event. But being a block away, and down one floor...Emil's table tops weren't covered with water....Emil's was covered with water. Deb's brother had a much more disorienting kind of loss, because he had little control over the building, and the time schedules of if and when things were repaired and how. Besides, David was nearing retirment. Who wants to rebuild and start over when one is close to retirement? The building had suffered more damage than Deb's and consequently required longer rehab, leaving David unable to reopen Emil's until June of 2009, almost 8 months after Deb was able to bring her deli back into service. It's the kind of event and lack of control that can leave a business person looking dreamily at early retirement.


Third Generation in the Family Tradition

But David slowly was able to see and plan for the future again, and with the strong support and assistance of US Bank, not only reopened Emil's, but he used the rebuilding time and energy to bring forth the third generation of Allicks providing food service to Cedar Rapids. With the opening of Emil's II in May, 2009, at 7037 C Ave. NE,, Cedar Rapids can now enjoy the energies and efforts of Nathan Allick, David's and Vinca's son, Emil's and Christiane's grandson, along with his partner, Allyn Secor. Emil's II has done well since opening with a focus similiar to his father's and aunt's delis, New for this third generation, Nathan and his partner are the first of the family tradition to be serving Cedar Rapids on weekends,

Where's Nathan's pic!
Nathan has made no commitments regarding a fourth generation of Allicks. His grandmother has. Be careful Nate!

Deb's Story