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Bologna sandwich, hold the peanut butter

Rock House Deli serves sandwiches with ‘local flare’

By ZOË HAGGARD - zhaggard@t-g.com
Posted 12/18/21

Growing up, sisters Anita Wade and Marie Pope knew two types of sandwiches: ham and bologna.  

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Bologna sandwich, hold the peanut butter

Rock House Deli serves sandwiches with ‘local flare’

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Growing up, sisters Anita Wade and Marie Pope knew two types of sandwiches: ham and bologna.  

“Ok, we said, I guess we’d better go with some modern stuff,” Pope said with a laugh. They’ve done that and a little more with their sandwich shop The Rock House Deli. 

Located at 401 Blackman Blvd in Wartrace, the building has been a couple things: a home, a hair salon, a boutique, and now a deli, which serves up local sandwiches, salads, and meat-and-threes. 

And every item has a little local flare to it—like the Cascade Cruiser or the Strollin’ Jim Italian-tyle panini or the Chockley Tavern BBQ chicken sandwich 

“But...Mr. Rickey still comes in and gets bologna sandwiches all the time, so we do have some that still want the old,” said Pope . It’s a great lunch to take when going fishing, which many do on their way to Coy Gaithers Bedford Lake. 

And if you want that fried, come on Fridays. They’re “fry-days.” 

Since everything is made-to-order, they have gotten some weird requests—like peanut butter on bologna or fried bologna on a Philly cheesesteak. 

When you’re hungry, you’ll eat ‘most anything. And the majority of the deli’s customers are just that—hungry farmers or construction workers coming in for their early morning lunch.  

“I’d always wanted a deli, but I didn’t know how to do that,” said Brenda Wheeler, the head cook at the deli.  

The Michigan-native said she learned to cook from her mom and grandma, who owned a country store there. Coming down to Nashville to pursue music in 1997, Wheeler and her husband settled in Wartrace to meet their country-living lifestyles. 

Wheeler's husband manages the Wartrace Music Fest, so she met the sisters about two years ago through the Wartrace Chamber of Commerce. 

One day, driving by The Rock House, Wheeler asked just under her breath, Lord, let me have a little deli. Two days later, she gets a call from Pope, who, knowing Wheeler’s cooking skills, asked if she wanted to open a sandwich shop.   

She said absolutely. And after making plans around the beginning of April, the deli was open by April 28.  

Their hours are 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Friday. Since Wartrace’s two other restaurants are open during the evening, they chose to open the deli during the day to offer a lunch place to residents and visitors.  

“We knew that we wanted to make it comfortable—like you're coming to your grandma or mom’s house,” said Wheeler. 

And even when the lunch crowd starts streaming in around 11:30 and she’s making dozen of sandwiches, there’s a certain satisfaction in the work.  

“I love cooking for people, and giving them...Makes me happy because they let me dote on them.” 

For daily specials visit their Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/rockhousedeli/ 

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