“I knew there was a need for good food on Wooster Street, specifically after hours,” said Steven Sterling, owner of Sterling’s Amish Deli and BGSU alumnus.
Sterling and his fiancé, Danielle Holzwart, are opening Sterling’s Amish Deli on Wooster Street in October. They hope to cater to the local crowd and to the late-night cravings of the after-hours bar crowds. They believe the late-night market is ready for a new food option.
“The only people that did it were the Corner Grill down here, which isn’t here anymore, and Taco Bell. There’s Insomnia Cookies but that’s just desserts and not everyone wants just dessert at that time,” Sterling said.
The couple are excited about their new venture. They have worked together on the renovation and the concept, but Holzwart attributes the vision to Sterling. She said he can see the end result even when others only see a mess.
“We’ve had a lot of feedback, that if they had the option between Taco Bell and something other than that when they’re leaving the bars, you know, then they would go with a different option,” Holzwart said.
When Sterling started at BGSU, he had a different plan for his life. He was an aviation major and planned to be a pilot for a major airline. The Airline Safety and Federal Aviation Administration Extension Act of 2010 altered his plan, changing the number of flight hours required to be a co-pilot from 250 hours to 1,500 hours.
He graduated from BGSU with 350 flight-hours, which was no longer enough hours to fly for a major airline. He did spend a year working in the aviation field, only to realize being a pilot was not what he really wanted.
“I decided it wasn’t for me. The schedule was crazy. Pilots were gone all of the time. I had a family I wanted to be home with and raise. The best way to provide for them is to have my own business,” he said.
Sterling attributes his business plan to an entrepreneurship class he took at BGSU. He remembers the professor stating clearly never to open a restaurant, because it’s not a good way to make money.
“For me that was like a challenge,” he laughed. “The surest way to convince me to do something is to tell me it can’t be done.”
Sterling took notes on everything the professor said was wrong in running a restaurant and feels he has countered those things. He is currently driving a truck full-time to provide for his family because the schedule is more flexible than a pilot’s and it pays the bills. Holzwart supports his choice.
“We’ve been together since we were kids. We met in high school. It’s been a roller coaster, but it’s been a good roller coaster,” Holzwart said.
The couple is engaged and is expecting a second child in October. Holzwart laughingly referred to the deli as her “other baby.”
“I will be spending my time here. The nice thing is that as a mom I can still be available for my kids if I need to be. When you’re your own boss, you don’t have anyone telling you what you can sell or how much to sell it for,” she added.
As a couple they feel the deli could be a legacy for their kids. Their plan is to be involved with the community and are excited to see the students and cater to their needs.
“We will have Amish meats and cheeses by the pound, but are adding burgers and fried foods – like fried desserts – fair foods you can’t normally get year ‘round,” Holzwart said.
They are planning on eat-in, carry-out and delivery. The delivery will include their own drivers, Eat Street and GrubHub. They are going to offer online ordering and Wi-Fi in the deli, but are really hoping the atmosphere encourages people to put down their phones and talk.
The prospective opening is early October, with daily hours from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Their goal is to have a full late-night schedule Thursday through Saturday, staying open until 3:30 a.m.
Sterling’s Amish Deli is located at 133 E. Wooster St.