Mornings at Emge’s Deli and Ice Cream always start with coffee, followed by putting on the bacon and fried potatoes. While running and operating a deli is a balancing act of many moving parts, after 44 years on the job, Jan Howell has it down.
“You have to be flexible,” she says. “You place an order, and it’s supposed to be here on Tuesday, it doesn’t get here, half of it’s not here, or some of it’s bad. You make it work.”
The deli, which opens from 6:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Friday, offers breakfast, plate lunches, sandwiches, soups, and 28 fresh-made salads. Howell’s favorite to make is the German potato salad that she learned from her great aunt.
Her business partner Tracie Jones added plate lunches to the offerings earlier this year and also has grown the catering side of the business. As hectic as running a daily deli can be — on their busiest day, Emge’s averaged 82 transactions an hour — Jones says the customers are what make the job fulfilling and fun.
“I really don’t think there’s a hard part,” she says. “I have never gotten up in the morning and said I just don’t want to do it today. Our customers like to joke. They’re not stiff people. We have people come in and say, ‘I used to come in with my grandpa or my dad.’”
Howell agrees the long success of Emge’s comes down to being customer-oriented.
“If we know their name, we’re going to call them by name,” she says. “Everything is made in house, and they can watch you make the sandwiches. We make it for them, and I think that makes them feel important.”
For more information about Emge’s Deli and Ice Cream, call 812-422-3026.