The Main Street Deli is “Findlay’s petri dish – where culture grows.” That’s at least how former downtown business owner, Jim Thomas, described it. The restaurant, located at 513 S. Main Street, has been serving up sandwiches, soup, and sweet treats since 1989. In celebration of its 30th birthday, we spoke with its owner, Elaine Bruggeman.

In 1993, Elaine had recently graduated from BGSU with an English degree, and moved to Findlay with a friend. A part-time job at the Deli brought in some money while studying towards grad school exams. One thing led to another, and she ended up buying the place within her first year there. That same year, Rosilli’s, the Bistro, and Japan West opened their doors for the first time. It was the beginning of downtown’s locally-owned restaurant theme.

Bruggeman recalls a magazine article describing Findlay as the “eat-ertainment capital of Ohio” due to the high number of restaurants per capita. However, it’s quality that really matters. “Findlay has more quality restaurants than any town I’ve visited. We’ve turned into a center that has arts, eating, and entertainment. People feel like they’re in a big city when they’re here.”

Despite the hustle & bustle and metropolitan vibes, there is still a community feel when you step into the Deli. Customers are onto the 3rd generation: kids who ate with their parents now bring in their own children. Decor showcases historic local photos. Diners quickly notice that very little is undecorated. “I started letting local businesses decorate the chairs as a way to say thank you for supporting me by letting me support their business. When we ran out of chairs, we did tables. We ran out of tables, and moved onto ceiling tiles!”

Ingredients are sourced locally whenever possible. The deli “reaps the benefits of local chemical-free delicious produce” thanks to area farmers market connections. Tom Lawrence and Jay & Heather Kershner provide many fruits and veggies, while brown eggs are delivered weekly from Metzger’s. Occasionally someone will call saying, “Hey, I have an overabundance of…”

Many of the menu items honor regulars. “If a customer visited every day for years, it just becomes a thing for the menu.” For example: The Joewich. Joe came in every day. When asked what he wanted to eat, he would grumble, ‘whatever.’ Joe never chose, so Elaine made him something different every time. Now, if you order the “Joewich,” you will get a surprise sandwich, too.

Social Findlay and the Main Street Deli held a Create-a-Sandwich Fundraiser in October/November. As a cancer survivor, Elaine chose Cancer Patient Services as a recipient of the proceeds. A total of $768 was donated to Cancer Patient Services! Thank you to everyone who contributed to the fundraiser. The winning sandwich, the “Flatbread Red,” is a sundried tomato wrap with cream cheese, roast beef, turkey, cream cheese, cucumbers, tomato, black olives, mushrooms, and ranch dressing.

Celebrating 30 years in business, Elaine says, “I am grateful. I am very grateful for my longtime employees, and my longtime customers. I couldn’t have done it without any of them!”

The Main Street Deli is open for dine-in, pickup, and delivery Monday-Thursday: 7am – 6 pm, Friday: 7am – 5pm, and Saturday: 11am – 3pm. Breakfast is served until 10am. Visit their Facebook page or website for daily soup and sandwich specials. Orders can called in to (419) 425-3354 or texted to (419)721-2850.

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