ROCK FALLS – You can taste the love in Zuppa’s sandwiches, according to longtime customer Tim Brabender.
So he is not happy that the Rock Falls deli is set to close after business Saturday.
Zeppelins and “mad hatter” sandwiches will be available only 3 more days at the deli.
“You close because you don’t have enough business,” co-owner Jim Schuneman, 62, said. “The business just went downhill to the point where we have to close.
“We’re sad about it, but we gave it a good shot,” Schuneman added. “I think the economic times being what they are, $4 gas being what it is, there’s not a lot of disposable income. That happens to be where we’re at.”
Brabender’s favorite sandwich is the “Dr. Strangelove,” which includes pepperoni and cheese on a pretzel roll. He asks that peppers and onions be thrown on the grill with the other ingredients.
“This is the only [deli in Rock Falls] that does this type of sandwich,” he said. “... I think these are made with love. You can taste the love. It’s neat to come here and watch them make the bread.”
Brabender’s friend and lunch companion, Tom Rowzee, 47, of Rock Falls, said he would miss the breads.
“You’re not going to get this type of bread anywhere else,” he said. His favorite is ciabatta, he said.
“The [soft] pretzels are awesome,” he added.
Schuneman owns the deli along with Tony Sosi. According to Sauk Valley Media archives, the deli opened in April 2011.
Zuppa’s closed for a day in August 2011 to remodel as the deli expanded. The deli, which long offered delivery to businesses, began delivering to homes in December.
Named with the Italian word for soup, Zuppa’s offered Italian breads and cheeses, as well as soups. It supported cultural endeavors; Kylon Gragert, 14, reproduced famous works of art on a chalkboard at the back of the deli, including “American Gothic” by Grant Wood.
Roxanne Glazier, 44, of Sterling, said she would miss the Z sauce – a sweetened dressing with stone ground mustard, horseradish and mayonnaise.
“I’m very sad I won’t have it anymore,” Glazier said of the sauce. She prefers the turkey and swiss sandwich on walnut wheat bread, she said.
Billy Rodriguez, 19, of Sterling, expressed disappointment with the closure.
“It stinks that a good, local deli is going to close down that had good prices and good service,” he said.
The deli has one full-time and eight to 10 part-time employees, Schuneman said.
Schuneman owns the building at 511 First Ave. He declined to comment on the future of the building.
The deli will be open regular hours until its closure: from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. today, Thursday and Friday, and from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday.
“We’ll stay open and, ... hopefully, people will come in and pick up a sandwich for nostalgia,” Schuneman said.
Cinnamon rolls, normally available on Sunday, will be available Saturday, Schuneman said.
The deli offers daily specials. The special on Thursday will be a deep-fried turkey sandwich; Friday’s specials will be a grilled cheese and vegetable submarine sandwich or steak sandwich; Saturday’s special is a barbecue beef, pork or chicken sandwich.
“As we always say, thanks for your support,” Schuneman said.