Anna Jean Stanley’s passion for antiques left a lasting legacy for her granddaughters, cousins Jasmine Elzy and Kyla Ford, owners of Corkscrew Curiosities in Henderson, Kentucky. It may have been her knack for perusing garage sales that gave them the tools to open their quirky antique shop, Corkscrew Curiosities, featured in the January/February issue of Evansville Living. But it was Stanley’s own local business that gave them their inspiration.
In 1978, after two years of managing Corkscrew Deli for founder Corky Taylor, Stanley bought the business located on the corner of First and Main Streets in Henderson, Kentucky.
“I remember the line being out the door,” says Melody Thompson, Stanley’s daughter and Elzy’s mother who grew up inside the deli. “The place was packed every day during lunch, and she ran out of soup every day.”
Stanley, who was born in Sebree, Kentucky, in 1937, grew up during the Great Depression with parents who taught her the value of hard work and commitment. It was a value she utilized every day as a single mom and business owner, working through breast cancer without missing a day of work.
She instilled the same values in Thompson and eventually Elzy and Ford.
“I remember helping Mom fix a compressor on a freezer and her telling me to learn how to take care of what you own,” says Thompson. “She often said I shouldn’t wait to have a man fix things if I could learn to do it on my own.”
Known for high quality service of meats, cheeses, homemade soups, fresh breads, and catering options, the deli still is remembered today thanks to Stanley’s hard work.
Several nostalgic posts in the private Facebook group “I grew up in Henderson and remember…” garnered more than 150 likes and comments about the former eatery. The overwhelming consensus? People loved Corkscrew Deli.
The proprietor of the deli’s success, Stanley worked every day until she sold Corkscrew at age 55 and rheumatoid arthritis forced her to retire completely a few years later. While she passed away in 2016, her spirit lives on in Elzy and Ford’s ambitions.
“Mom was an entrepreneur,” says Thompson. “She was independent, she spoke her mind, her commitment to quality products and services was extraordinary.”
Photos provided by Melody Thompson.