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HER | Julie's Deli celebrates 25 scrumptious years

by Aaron Brand | June 30, 2021 at 11:10 p.m. | Updated June 30, 2021 at 9:07 p.m.
Julie Furlow presides over the register at Julie's Deli and Market. Julie's has been in business for 25 years.

For Julie's Deli and Market, a simple recipe adds up to its made-from-scratch, 25-year success story: Keep the customers and staff happy. Looking back on the recently accomplished, quarter-century milestone, owner Julie Furlow credits that approach as the reason why they've steadily thrived and grown over the years at 4055 Summerhill Road in Texarkana, Texas.

Of course, the deliciousness of their chicken spaghetti no doubt helps the cause. Julie's supportive style and we're-in-this-together approach to her workers has also ensured they stay and speak highly of the experience of working there.

And her dedication to quality is why one customer wrote on the deli's social media page, "I still remember ordering chicken spaghetti for the first time, and the '15 years' sticker being on the bags!"

Ten years later, that chicken spaghetti is still memorable.

With the support of family, this former schoolteacher started the deli as a sandwich shop. Over time, she accepted the challenges to keep going and growing outward from the spot where the dining room is now.

"I started there with just soups, salad and sandwiches, and I was only open 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. So it really was just a lunch spot," Julie recalls. She had her family working there and just one employee.

Of course, the deliciousness of their chicken spaghetti no doubt helps the cause. Julie's supportive style and we're-in-this-together approach to her workers has also ensured they stay and speak highly of the experience of working there.

And her dedication to quality is why one customer wrote on the deli's social media page, "I still remember ordering chicken spaghetti for the first time, and the '15 years' sticker being on the bags!"

Ten years later, that chicken spaghetti is still memorable.

With the support of family, this former schoolteacher started the deli as a sandwich shop. Over time, she accepted the challenges to keep going and growing outward from the spot where the dining room is now.

"I started there with just soups, salad and sandwiches, and I was only open 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. So it really was just a lunch spot," Julie recalls. She had her family working there and just one employee. "My grandmother cooked all my desserts."

She always had a business bug, she admits, even after teaching for 11-and-a-half years and enjoying it. In this, she was just like family. "My grandparents owned their own business. They had a small country grocery store," she said.

In the 25 years, she's expanded three times, adding the gourmet food market, the grill (so they can do burgers) and the catering side. It's essentially several businesses under one roof with the restaurant and in-house bakery, too.

"It all started just from the lunch and then we just expanded on top of that," Julie said. When she traveled, she visited bigger cities and brought ideas back to Texarkana, such as grab-and-go meals, gourmet options and casseroles.

"I saw those things and I thought, 'You know, I can do that in Texarkana.' On a smaller scale that fits Texarkana and really offer convenience," Julie said.

They have found a niche appropriate to the market here, too: Comfort food for busy people who don't have time for extra cooking.

"A lot of the food that we do is just comfort food, casseroles and comfort food," Julie said. "People have them not only for just family meals, but they're great for people that need something for a funeral, different celebrations."

They've expanded with new ideas, and she credits her staff with bringing great ones to the kitchen table.

Julie calls her staff "amazing." She considers her staff a second family.

"I love people, and these people come in here and work super hard. They're devoting a good part of every day to here. They deserve everything they get," Julie said. "When I say I've been here 25 years, we've been here 25 years because of the staff. They're great people, they have wonderful ideas and we're just close."

Brittany Weeks has worked for Julie for years, and "family" is the word she returns to when she talks about the experience. She was the kitchen manager for a while.

"There's so much I could say about what a wonderful boss, business owner and person Julie has been over the 10 years I've been with the company, but what it really comes down to is how much she genuinely cares about her customers and her staff," Brittany said. "We may drive each other crazy sometimes, but at the end of the day, it can be summed up in two words: We're family."

Jenny Hughes Tanner has served as the Julie's Deli executive chef, in addition to the event and catering manager.

"Julie's is successful because of Julie," Tanner said. "She has continuously assembled an amazing team of people who care, just as much as she does, about her customers and standards of service."

Customers drive the business, Julie says.

"In most places, if the customers are happy and the employees are happy everything is going to be running just fine," she said.

As to the cooking, her three signature dishes - chicken spaghetti, chicken salad and white chocolate strawberry cake - remain tops as deli staples. That cake outsells all the others 10 to one, Julie says. It doesn't feel heavy, it's light.

"It's got that good, kind of vanilla, buttercream cake," she said, crediting a worker many years ago, Beth Smith, with finding and then perfecting the recipe.

Chicken salad comes in a sandwich, in a fruit plate, or by the pound. Thought lighter, it's still comfort food, another twist on their classic American deli fare.

"We make 25 pounds of chicken salad every day, six days a week," Julie said. "That's a big number."

As are her 25 years in business. Both speak volumes.

(On the Net: juliesdeli.com.)

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