By Evan J. Pretzer
For more than 20 years, Rollinda Thomas ran La Prima Deli in downtown Wausau. Now, she has retired and a new mother and son pair are writing the next chapter of the storied casual eatery.
Christian Pfeiffer and Tammy Bailey began eyeing the space once they saw it was for sale in July, closed on the site Sept. 19, and opened Wednesday that same week. They grabbed it as Pfeiffer received a troubling change at the restaurant where he used to work. Bailey knew he had baking talent and, so far, the 19-year-old has risen to meet the expectations she has.
“I am super proud, he really stepped up,” she says. “He has worked hard. I knew he could and it has been nice to see him getting the respect of other business people. Realtors, our supply guys, it has been a bit like mentoring. They have taken the time and explained a lot of stuff to him.”
The pair have kept the recipes Thomas initially created and say she has been helping them out so far. Right now, they intend to make small changes as they proceed, and, while this can sometimes result in new management taking something away, Bailey adds they are only going to include things as time goes on. That could include possibly adjusting what the visual side of the business looks like.
That makes sense. La Prima Deli won Best Deli in City Pages’ annual Best of the Wausau Area reader survey this year.
“We will see what’s popular,” Bailey says. “We want to add things and maybe just paint and do stuff to make it our own. We will see how things roll for the first six months and maybe add some new breakfast items. Things you can get quickly before heading off to work … like that.”
Continuing the La Prima Deli tradition
So far, Pfeiffer says people who realize he now runs the place have treated him positively. He hopes to see more young entrepreneurs downtown and while business owners can often seem like they have time, this is not the case here. Pfeiffer has been busy and has spent many of his days working on what is to come before he can even exit and live the rest of his life.
“Everyone always makes it sound like when you are running your own business you get your own kind of free hours,” he says. “That’s the farthest from the truth. I think there were some days, especially during the first week, I was in here for 20 hours a day. I want to give a big thank you to the staff and my family for supporting us. This whole thing has all been really great.”
La Prima Deli is open from 8:30 a.m. – 3:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. They close Saturdays and Sundays, though, Bailey and Pfeiffer may change this in the future as well as try to be open for full days during the week. More info is on the La Prima Deli Facebook page. They are located at 529 N. Third Street and can also be reached by calling 715-848-1260 in addition.
Evan J. Pretzer is a contributor to City Pages. Reach him at [email protected].