WATERLOO — Tammy Hobby loves to cook and bake.
So much so that she’s poured her heart and soul into opening the Corner Deli & Bakery on the four corners of downtown. That’s good news for those who love to eat.
A Waterloo native, the former Tammy Bruch, is planning three days of a “soft” opening with a limited menu from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. May 16, 17 and 18. She will have an official grand opening May 20 with a full menu and expanded hours for the breakfast and lunch crowd.
Hobby, 46, is leasing the former First Dragon Chinese Restaurant space from new building owner Howard Friedman of New York City. First Dragon moved next door on East Main Street. Older Waterloo residents may remember the corner building as Siegrist’s Drug Store from the 1950s and ‘60s.
“This is my dream and it wouldn’t have happened without the great support of the village, who got me a grant, without Mr. Friedman and his local representative, George Weiler, and family and friends,” Hobby said while taking a break from getting ready for the opening.
Friedman and Weiler have put in a new floor, new electric services, new HVAC equipment and food preparation equipment. Hobby has her own doughnut making machine. She’s also had to hand scrub the white ceramic tile walls that had been stained brown by years as a restaurant. The walls have been painted and display cases and other equipment needed for a modern deli and bakery are in place.
“I’ve got to get two more tables and chairs. Otherwise, I hope we’re ready. I’m nervous,” Hobby said. Soon, the paper on the windows blocking the street view of the inside will be removed. Bob Meyer of Waterloo provided the signs and graphics.
“Howard and George have been great. I said the outside trim needs painting and the next day, George shows up with a paint sample and the painting was done the day after that,” she said.
“Anything I’ve asked for, they come through,” she added, grateful that Friedman is investing in downtown to make a difference.
Helping out will be a daughter, her fiance, a son-in-law and three others she has hired. Hobby will do virtually all of the cooking and baking.
“I don’t want to dread coming to work. I want this to be a place where we laugh and enjoy what we’re doing. Customers should also have a good time when they come in,” she said.
The store will offer homemade doughnuts, bagels, muffins, cakes, cookies and pies. Her specialty is peanut butter pie and coconut cream pie. The breakfast menu includes breakfast sandwiches. Lunch will feature specialty sandwiches, subs, wraps, macaroni and cheese, hamburgers, hot dogs and finger foods.
“We’ll go easy at first to reduce chances of failure. As we go along, I may add things to meet demand,” she said.
“This is a life long dream of Tammy and should be a real boost for downtown,” Weiler said.
Hobby worked as a waitress in several area restaurants and baked for the Geneva American Legion for years. Hobby said family members taught her how to cook and bake when she was 21, but she’s largely self taught. She cooked for her own family and was usually the “go to” place for family gatherings, where she provided the food.
She also caters. The positive response she got to catering local events, including a Waterloo High wrestling tournament event, was so good that she was inspired to push ahead with her dream of having her own place.
She said she will try to buy as much local food items as possible.
Seneca County Chamber of Commerce officials Jeff Shipley and MacKenzie Green stopped in to offer encouragement.
“You’ll do great,” Shipley told Hobby.
Corner Deli & Bakery will be open 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday; 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Sunday. It will be closed Wednesdays.