On any given Saturday, a line of hungry customers snakes out of The Devine Cinnamon Roll Deli, perusing menus as they wait to get a taste of their signature cinnamon rolls or savory breakfast sandwiches. Though the restaurant is sure to satisfy any breakfast cravings, it is its welcoming atmosphere that makes it truly stand out to patrons.
“It’s always young student workers, and they’re always so energetic and so sweet when you walk in the door,” said graduate student Brooke Pataky. “And the food is delicious, so that’s a bonus.”
While The Devine Cinnamon Roll Deli may have cemented its place in the heart of locals, its origins can be traced to a more distant location. Mother-son duo and owners Jody and Richard Kreush opened the restaurant in 2016 after they moved to Columbia from Pittsburgh.
“My mother kinda ran restaurants the majority of her life,” Richard Kreush said. “In Maryland, she was on the Restaurant Association board, and she managed an Italian restaurant and it had multiple locations. Then, when we moved over to Pittsburgh, she ended up running her own food truck as well.”
With this background in the restaurant industry in mind, the family decided Columbia needed a sandwich shop or "breakfast joint," and The Devine Cinnamon Roll Deli was born. Even on its opening day, Kreush said that the support shown towards the restaurant was immense and unexpected.
“I used to actually work at multiple restaurants while I was in school,” Kreush said. "I used to tell everybody (The Devine Cinnamon Roll Deli) was about to open and stuff and everyone was just extremely supportive. And then come our first day open, I didn't realize I had told so many people, like on our first day open we got a line out the door and, you know, it kind of just blew our minds.”
The communal show of support for The Devine Cinnamon Roll Deli has continued past its opening day, as members of the Columbia community, such as fourth-year public health student Isabella Young, are still discovering the restaurant today.
“I found out about (The Devine Cinnamon Roll Deli) freshman year with my roommate,” Young said. “We were just scouting out places to go, and it’s become a frequent place that I go to to go get food on the weekends.”
Just as local customers have embraced The Devine Cinnamon Roll Deli, the restaurant has been equally supportive of the Columbia community. The dining area is decorated with art from Columbia artists and local art students, and the restaurant has partnered with SQ Rescue, a nonprofit animal rescue based in the Columbia area.
The Devine Cinnamon Roll Deli has also gained both local and national attention over the years. Inside the restaurant, a mix of accolades are displayed on the walls, such as the restaurant's 'Cinnamonster' being featured on the Food Network’s “Ginormous Foods” and the Free Times’ Best New Restaurant of 2017 award.
Kreush credits the restaurant’s success to its expansive menu, featuring a wide range of offerings from cinnamon rolls and grits to soups and paninis.
“We like to think that we fit all occasions essentially for anyone, whatever you’re feeling," Kreush said. "Our menu is pretty all over the place, so I feel like everyone can eat here every day of the week and not have the same thing twice if they don’t want to."
To accommodate The Devine Cinnamon Roll Deli's growing popularity, the restaurant plans to expand its Devine Street location in the next year. Kreush said the expansion will allow for more dining space and will grow the restaurant's menu to potentially include some healthier options like salads and wraps.
“Everyone always gives us positive feedback for the most part, or at least constructive criticism,” Kreush said. “We’ve been able to adjust and kinda really find our niche in all of this. We didn't used to sell grits when we first opened and about a year and a half, two years in, my mom tasted some of the local grits and was like, ‘I can do this.’ And now it’s actually one of our best-selling items.”
Community response has shaped The Devine Cinnamon Roll Deli in more ways than one. Kreush said seeing the smiles on diners’ faces is one of the most rewarding parts of working at the restaurant.
“It really does just bring a warmth to your heart,” Kreush said. “Something you made — it kinda brightens up their day. Just really takes you over a little bit.”
The Devine Cinnamon Roll Deli is located at 2617 Devine St. and is open Wednesday through Sunday from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m.