After an absence of a little less than a year, a member of the Schroeder family is back at the helm of Schroeder’s New Deli, 406 Broad St. Caleigh Schroeder, daughter of Charles Schroeder, has returned to Rome as general manager of the restaurant and is excited about carrying on the family tradition at the iconic Broad Street eatery.
The restaurant has been owned by her father and her uncle John Schroeder all along, but when John hung up his apron in January of this year, day-to-day operations of the restaurant were turned over to long-time employee Teresa Haney. “We’re definitely going to miss her. She’s been wonderful,” Caleigh said.
John said Caleigh is the same age he was when he started the business.
“We’re excited to have it back with the family,” he said.
He explained that when the restaurant first opened, his brother Charles was actually living in the metro Atlanta area.
“Our analogy was I’m the bean cooker, he’s the bean counter,” John said. “But he’s pretty good on the grill.”
Caleigh has worked on and off in the restaurant since 2002 but after attending college and getting a degree in biology, she spent the last five years working in a microbiology lab in Kennesaw.
“I just recently decided I wanted to settle down, buy a house and decided I was ready to move back to Rome,” Caleigh said.
She bought a house about a month ago, and it wasn’t long after that Haney decided she was going to step down for personal reasons.
“My dad and John asked me if I was interested in taking on the family business. I grew up in here; this is my home so it was a pretty easy decision to make,” Caleigh said. “It’s been a bit of a change for me but this is home. I’m excited to be back.”
Charles said it was just good to have his daughter back home in Rome in the first place.
“It’s a bit of a gamble for her because she had a good thing going down in Kennesaw in microbiology,” Charles said. “She had a real interesting job but she likes Rome. She’s like a lot of us. I’ve seen so many of my classmates from the East Rome Class of ’67 who have realized over time that Rome really is a cool place and have ended up coming back.”
The restaurant probably has a half-dozen employees who have worked at Schroeder’s for at least five years and that all of them would help make Caleigh’s transition as smooth as possible. John walked away from day-to-day management in January but said he’s usually in the restaurant for lunch several times a week and would also help his niece when needed.
Haney agreed to stay on for a while to help the younger Schroeder learn some of the management ropes that she had not necessarily been exposed to during her off-and-on time in the restaurant.
“Most of the stuff that I didn’t do before involved the ordering of produce, making all of the soups and sauces. John usually handled all of that stuff,” Caleigh said. “Then there are the day-to-day things like people wanting donations for this and that. We always want to support the community. Now that’s my decision.”
Asked what the hardest thing about being a general manager is, Caleigh said she hasn’t had to do it but it would probably be having to let someone go, should that situation arise. She also said it has been a challenge to figure out the balance to stocking perishable items.
“You never want to waste food but you also don’t want to run out of food,” she said.
Caleigh said she did not have any plans, at least not right off the bat, to tinker with the menu.
“Maybe down the road — but if it isn’t broken, don’t try to fix it. We’ve had a good thing going for almost 40 years now,” she said. “I want to maintain the same eclectic Schroeder’s atmosphere that people have loved about us over the years. The biggest thing I would like to tackle is our courtyard. I’d like to maximize use of the courtyard. It has so much potential and needs just a little TLC back there.”
Her Schroeder’s Deli “go-to” favorite meal varies from week-to-week.
“Right now my favorite is the Chuckles Relief, which is a special we did a while back — a variation of our Roast Beef Relief. It just has a couple of extras added to it,” she said.
Over the years, she said, perhaps the most important thing she learned from her father and uncle was a strong work ethic.
“None of this is easy. What they’ve done is a huge thing, keeping a small restaurant open,” Caleigh said, adding that she feels like the public probably isn’t aware of the time commitment involved in running a restaurant.
John said he could sell the building and the business and really kick back for the next 20 years — but that is not the plan.
“Rome is home, for at least three generations on my mother’s side and for Caleigh. I hope this really works for her. It’s a great place, and I’m proud of her,” he said.