Along Route 78 in Noble County hides the hidden gem of Ellie’s Deli. With its dark navy blue exterior and green doors, the deli, located at 78 Olive Street in Caldwell, has become a community staple for not only the community but the fracking industry as well.
When Ellie’s Deli opened its doors in 2013, the fracking industry was just beginning to explore the Utica Shale rock formation in Noble County. The expanding population and community support made Ellie’s Deli’s sandwiches and hand-dipped ice cream a must-have menu. The deli has since continued to grow and now offers fresh meats, Ohio-made products and fresh soups and salads as well.
Named after the owner’s eldest daughter, Ellie’s Deli quickly became a staple for the community as well as for those who may only be passing by on their way to work. Ben Schafer, owner of Ellie’s Deli, understands the importance that the oil and gas industry holds on the small town of Caldwell.
“It’s crazy what the oil and gas industry had done to the area,” says Ellie’s Deli owner Ben Schafer. “Economically-speaking, if it weren’t for the oil and gas business in the community, we may be a ghost town.”
When Schafer began to cater events for the Turner Oil and Gas Properties in 2013, his business took off. As a nod to the oil and gas industry, Ellie’s Deli offers sandwiches named The Frack and The Pipeliner among those named for close friends and family of the employees.
But Schafer has more than the food business on his proverbial plate. In addition to Ellie’s Deli, Schafer is the owner of Ben Schafer Realty, Ed and Ben Schafer Auctioneers and Claire’s Corner Fuel Mart, one of the last full-service gas stations in Ohio. As the deli began to grow, Schafer knew that he needed to bring in some additional managerial help.
“I’ll take credit for being the visionary behind it all,” Schafer says. “But I saw the writing on the wall that I had to bring someone in that knew what the hell they were doing.”
Schafer brought in David Harmon, a longtime friend who was familiar with the grocery and meat cutting industries, and Ellie’s Deli continued to expand. From ribeyes to pork chops to chicken breast, the deli now offers fresh-cut meats sold by the pound. Harmon comes in every morning around three or four to get the meat cut and prepared for that day.
Having not advertised for any of his businesses in the last year and a half, the community staple continues to grow. Serving anywhere from 80 to 100 meals a day, Schafer has plans of possibly expanding locations and doesn’t plan on slowing down.
“As long as we take care of people, the money always takes care of itself,” Schafer says. “We live by that.”