About 2,000 vehicles drive U.S. 281 through the small town of Sawyer every day. Greg Wolf and family think they have developed a business that will be interesting enough to stop travelers and satisfying enough to keep them coming back.
The Family Food Store has been open for three weeks and already they're seeing repeat customers, or folks who tell them, "my neighbor told me about ..."
Located in the building that was a café for most of nearly 40 years, they're not quite a restaurant, not quite a grocery store, not a full service bakery or deli, but have elements of all.
The store is Wolf's first venture into retail, but his wife Ruby grew up in a similar store in Ohio. They considered buying the building when it was for sale 10 years ago, but with young children, the time wasn't right, Wolf said.
The store is a family business in every sense of the word, with a job for everyone. Greg Wolf, who cut his hours as an agricultural consultant at Kennedy and Coe to half time, works the deli. Ruby is the chief baker and cook. Laurel, 15, helps her mom and also makes sandwiches. Chloe, 14, is usually at the cash register. Savannah, 13, and Sophie, 10, rebag bulk items and fill in where they're needed. Elliott, 4, is the greeter.
"He's our P.R. man," Wolf said. "He's out there shaking hands with everyone. I never knew he was so forward until we started here."
The store is an extension of the children's home schooling, teaching them real-world skills, Wolf said.
They've made decisions about what to offer very deliberately. Everything is homemade from scratch. Fresh hoagie buns are the foundation for sandwiches of meats and cheeses that are unique to the area, Wolf said, drawing attention to a green onion cheese being offered for samples, and a hickory-smoked bacon cheese in the case.
They chose Troyer Cheese Co. in Ohio as their supplier for two reasons: they have the highest reputation for quality in the business, and they agreed to deliver to Sawyer — a "huge benefit" in protecting the quality, according to Wolf.
Their "jar goods" — jams, jellies and fruit — carry the Amish Wedding label. The Wolfs are members of the Old German Baptist Brethren, another of the so-called Plain People, with many similar convictions as the Amish.
Ruby Wolf bakes four to six pies every day, breads, rolls and cookies. She also prepares casseroles for the freezer and plans to expand the line, as well as add homemade pizza. Special orders are welcome.
Their signature sandwich is one she has served many times to guests in her home: cream cheese, bacon, roast beef, cheddar, smoked turkey, Swiss cheese and another layer of bacon and cream cheese, heated up to blend the flavors. Another favorite is called My Hoagie — choose three meats and a cheese, and select from nine condiments offered. Add chips or potato salad, a can of pop and a cookie to make a meal.
Customers can carry their sandwiches out or sit at a table covered in crisp red and white checks, in the old south dining room that has been brightened up with white paint and new carpet.
They haven't yet become the morning coffee shop, but they would welcome that. Customers have been area families, farmers packing lunch for the field, oil and gas workers, weekend residents of three small resorts south of Sawyer and travelers who make regular trips between Medicine Lodge and Pratt.
The Wolfs purchased the building in May and after a summer of work, opened Oct. 18 on a limited schedule. If all goes well, they are open to the possibility of expanding their days of operation.
If you go
Address: 201 S. Main, Sawyer. Take Main Street south from Pratt, drive 10 miles and you can't miss it.
Open: Thursdays, 11 a.m. -8 p.m., Fridays, 7 a.m.-8 p.m., Saturdays, 7 a.m.-4 p.m.