Let’s just call Eric Jerardi a 21st Century renaissance man — because that’s what he is.
The multi-faceted Jerardi is a blues guitarist and founder of the Eric Jerardi Band, with a 30-year music career and multiple national CD releases backed by blistering live performances locally and elsewhere.
He is a deli and wine-shop owner of Jerardi’s Little Store at 7325 Peters Pike in Butler Twp., where he serves up some of the best deli sandwiches and gourmet fare in the Miami Valley.
And he is a wine expert, with a depth of knowledge in Italian and French wines that rivals any connoisseur’s. An Eric Jerardi wine recommendation, whether it’s for a $15 Italian red or a $350 Bordeaux, is money.
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Any one of those three talents alone would probably be sufficient for a Daytonian of the Week nomination, but all three in one package makes it a slam dunk. We caught up with the very busy Eric Jerardi to find out a bit more about our Daytonian of the Week.
What prompted you to get into the wine/deli business AND the music business?
I was in the music business prior to acquiring the Little Store. I was also selling real estate at that time (nearly 25 years ago). The opportunity came up with the store under unfortunate circumstances which made the previous owner need to sell it quickly. A partner and I bought it with the intention to flip it, and here I am all these years later as the sole proprietor.
How have you been able to balance your two careers?
I’ll be honest with you, it hasn’t been easy. I will say that the music business has probably suffered the most in that it takes me longer than some to write music and make records. But looking back at my 30-year career, I’m very proud of the music that I’ve written and released, which includes 10 national releases, including a DVD. That’s a lot of work.
I will say that I did burn myself out several years ago and I backed off my performance schedule considerably. At that time I focused on my business a lot more, culminating in a rather significant addition to Jerardi’s Little Store in the form of a commercial kitchen.
But I’m getting back to playing live a lot more, writing and performing new material, and I feel that I’m at the top of my game musically.
RELATED: Jerardi’s Little Store wine shop & deli is back in business after remodel (February 2017)
One thing about the balance is that playing music afforded me the opportunity to grow my business by not needing cash. So I dumped every bit back into the business and lived off of playing my guitar - to this day I don’t pay myself out of the store, but I have quite a nice lifestyle as a result of it and drink very nice wine!
What’s your favorite spot in the Dayton area?
I’m a total hermit, bordering on agoraphobic, so I don’t go out much. I love my house and I work so much that when I’m not working, I enjoy being home. I will say though that my favorite spot is Ozu 852 in Englewood for sushi. I’ve been everywhere and Ann and Alan, the owners, do it as well as anyone. I do get special treatment, though, and I gladly pay for it.
What do you love about life in the Dayton area?
People don’t realize how great they have it here in Dayton. You have to travel a lot to understand that. I live north and really love it here — no traffic issues, and I love the airport being so close. We are picking up direct flights all the time, and that’s nice for weekend getaways.
I also like my commute to my business which is all of 5 minutes — and I live in the country. Not to mention our great festivals, world-class museums, entertainment, sports, etc. Food culture is starting to come around also.
If you could change or bring one thing to Dayton, would it be?
An authentic Parisian bistro.
What do you think Dayton will look like in 10-15 years?
Well, if what’s happened in the last 10-15 years is any sign of what’s to come, I think the sky is the limit. We are growing at hyper-speed right now, which is very exciting. I can see the office space getting filled up downtown with some heavy anchors coming in as they recognize what we have to offer, and then it will snowball from there — boom!