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Hub City Liquor

November 13, 1999|By KERRY LYNN FRALEY

Her husband's medical condition got Debbie Shifler thinking about adding food service to their liquor store business in the South End Shopping Center.

Because he has juvenile diabetes, Steve Shifler, 39, needs to have food handy to help regulate his blood sugar, she said.

With the long hours they were putting in at their store, Hub City Liquor, it was easy to forget to eat - which could mean tragedy, Debbie Shifler, 37, said.

While her husband's health sparked the idea, it wasn't the only reason for the new business, however.

The more she thought about trying her hand at a deli business, the more she liked the idea.

The Boonsboro couple decided to take a chance on the venture and, in mid-September, the former stockroom at the back of their store became a take-out restaurant and the business became Hub City Liquor & Deli.

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Converting the back room to a deli required major remodeling, said Debbie Shifler, who cooks the food to order in the open kitchen area.

Little by little, they moved the inventory from the back of the store to the front. Then, with the help of their daughter, Amanda, 15, they gutted the back room during lulls in the store.

Between the construction work - including all new plumbing, an electrical upgrade and remodeling of the store's bathroom - and the needed restaurant equipment, getting the new business off the ground cost about $75,000, she said.

A full-time person was hired to cover Debbie Shifler's old hours at the liquor store so she could work full-time in the deli.

She started out operating seven days a week, but has since decided to close on Sundays, when business isn't brisk enough at this point.

Business has been building slowly, thanks to a mix of paid advertising and word of mouth, Shifler said.

Still, a lot of people including customers who come into the liquor store don't realize there's a deli area beyond the large walk-in cooler, she said.

The deli's menu is a mix of snacking-type foods Shifler said she thought customers of the liquor store might like - such as Buffalo wings - and breakfast, lunch and dinner items she hoped would draw a new clientele.

Her barbecued babyback ribs and deep-fried Henny Penny chicken have been hits with customers, she said.

The ribs are served only at dinner time. For lunch, she offers a pork barbecue sandwich made from meat pulled from ribs left over at the end of the previous day.

Other items on the hand-written blackboard menu include a variety of subs and hot sandwiches, a soup of the day, hot and cold side dishes, shrimp, munchies such as mozzarella cheese sticks, breaded mushrooms and chicken tenders, and breakfast foods such as waffles, hotcakes and eggs.

Only high-quality meat and poultry, purchased from local suppliers, is used and all preparation is fresh, Shifler said.

Opening the deli in the same space minimized the overhead she'd have to recoup in business volume each month, she said.

However, space restraints limited the business to carry-out.

They'd have to remove the large walk-in cooler separating the store floor and deli to fit seating, a change which could be detrimental the liquor store business, Debbie Shifler said.

After working long and hard to build the business since they bought it from Steve Shifler's father 71/2 years ago, they decided they didn't want to do anything with the deli that could hurt the liquor store, she said.

Hub City Liquor & Deli is at 1013 Maryland Ave. in Hagerstown.

Deli hours are 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Saturday.

Liquor store hours are 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and noon to 7 p.m. Sunday.

Because food is cooked to order, it's recommended that customers call in their deli orders at 301-790-0139.

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