When Adam Thiel decided he wanted to add pizza to his restaurant’s menu, he knew how he wanted to cook it.
“I always liked going to a pizza place that cooked pizza on a stone, slid the pizza in the big oven,” said Thiel, owner and operator of Butch’s Deli in Blair. “I would see that done places and it’s really neat. I think that’s the way to do it. It’s always better that way.”
Before he could make the addition, Thiel and his family had to do a lot of taste testing. He knew he could use any toppings. The sauce would be one his wife, Stacie Sarasio’s, family had used for years. But he was unsure of the crust.
“I had a guy working with me who said, ‘Let’s try it. I’ll help you out,’” Thiel said. “So we kind of practiced and ate a lot of bad pizzas.”
It’s been nearly two years since Butch’s Deli launched its pizza, which Thiel and Sarasio said they wanted to do to bring in more business.
“Butch’s has always been just a very successful lunch business and in the summertime a very successful ice cream place,” Sarasio said. “But really with the pizzas, we wanted to try something that would generate evening business, especially in the wintertime.”
Most people get their pizzas to go, Thiel said, but they wanted to encourage people to stay and dine in so Butch’s began offering family nights recently. With the purchase of any large pizza, a family can get free drinks and each person can get a single scoop of ice cream.
“What we’re really trying to do is bring in more family dining in the evening and really trying to become more of a family-type place for that evening business as well as the lunch crowd,” Sarasio said.
Butch’s Deli was originally a Goodrich shop when Thiel’s father, Ron, bought the business in 1991. The name was changed in 2006 in honor of Ron, whose nickname is Butch.
Thiel started working for his father after college in 1995.
“It was an opportunity Dad offered to me,” Thiel said. “I was young. I enjoyed it. I always worked for him in the summers. I enjoyed it and I thought now was the time to do it if I’m going to try it. I liked it and I still like it.”
Ron has since retired, though he does help out with things here and there around the restaurant.
Much of what was offered more than 20 years ago is still on the menu today. Over the years, Thiel said they have tried different things, including breakfast.
“We tried doing things, like, when the whole wrap phase thing came around,” Thiel said. “We tried doing some of that stuff. It’s just Blair’s not that kind of town. People want to come and they want a sandwich and it’s just what it is. Any of that fad stuff has never really worked at our place.”
Butch’s Deli, which employs seven part-time employees — plus Thiel, who works more than 60 hours a week — also offers soups with those sandwiches, tacos and even nachos on its daily menu. It’s food that Thiel grew up with.
“All of these recipes — the soups, the tacos, for sure — are stuff that we made at home when I was growing up. That Mom and Dad made and it was good,” Thiel said. “Everything that we do there is pretty much from scratch. We don’t buy our pizza crusts. We’re making dough. The taco meat is not a season packet that I buy from somewhere. It’s a recipe that we had at home.”
On Jan. 1, Butch’s Deli added a catering business, which Sarasio helps manage.
In the first couple of months, Sarasio said more than a half dozen businesses started ordering from them consistently.
“If somebody wanted us to serve something for a big wedding or something like that, we would be open to talking with them about it,” Sarasio said. “But that’s not what we’re doing mostly. It’s mostly big breakfast or lunch stuff for offices and meetings and I deliver the food.”
Sarasio said they have already scheduled a wedding, a class reunion and several graduations.
Thiel cooks a variety of items for the catering business, including breakfast casseroles, lasagna, pizza, a taco or potato bar and, of course, soups and sandwiches. But Sarasio said they are not limited to that list.
“We have some ideas of things that we definitely can do, but it’s not like these are the only things we offer for our catering and this is exactly this price,” she said. “Most of the time it’s like, ‘Talk to me. Tell me what you’re thinking.’”
“I can do anything,” Thiel said. “It’s just a matter of me figuring out how to make it taste good.”
Thiel, who is originally from Omaha, and Sarasio live in Blair with their 3-year-old son, Harrison. Theil said it’s the community support that helps make his business a success.
“The community just supports me like no other,” he said. “It’s good to be and feel like you’re a part of the community instead of taking off and going home after work. It’s been really, really good.”