Business Profile – Spinelli's Deli

By Mary Martineau

Joe Spinelli and Bill Ward

Spinelli’s Deli is owned and operated by Joe Spinelli and Bill Ward. It opened as a Manhattan Bagel franchise in 1997 but became the independently operated and rhyming-ly named café in 2001. When asked how the name evolved, Joe shrugs and offers, “Bill liked it and it rhymed. We had a bunch of other ideas, but people knew me from my community involvement, so it just made sense. And it rhymed.”

Joe himself is a former Harrison West resident. From 1994 through 1999, he owned and resided in a duplex on West Third Avenue before ultimately moving to a house in Dennison Place. As a resident in Harrison West, Joe was frustrated that there was no place to grab a quick breakfast or lunch. Thus, the seed of the deli was hatched. Joe grew up in family restaurants and worked for McDonald’s as an adolescent. He liked the “system” that a franchise offered as a start-up business and became a Manhattan Bagel franchisee. After several years, Joe and Bill realized that something more eclectic and independent was a better fit for the Short North neighborhood, so they pursued a “divorce” from their franchise.

Joe is an active member of the Short North community. He is a longtime board member for the Short North Business Association (including a two-year stint as president), he participated in the Victorian Village Tour of Homes (including three years as chair), and he regularly supports local neighborhood organizations. One of the great things about Joe is that he’s a highly accessible business owner. Customers know Joe and are not shy about giving him ideas regarding the deli. Many customer suggestions are enacted, too. Spinelli’s Deli is now open for dinner until 9 p.m. and offers a diversified menu with pastas and flat breads in addition to the sandwiches, soups, salads and wraps that locals have come to love. They will be adding Wi-Fi and online ordering one day soon, too—all by customer request. So if you’ve got an idea that you think will make Spinelli’s Deli even better, be sure to tell Joe!

One of Joe’s favorite spots in Harrison West is Side by Side Park down by the river, which he refers to as a “hidden gem.” He is also very proud of the work by Harrison West residents in conjunction with the city of Columbus in making the Third Avenue bridge a reality. Finally, Joe really enjoys driving down West Third Avenue in the springtime when all of the pear trees are in bloom. He declares, “That is just the prettiest street in the spring!”

Joe is a big supporter of Harrison West and believes that the neighborhood doesn’t necessarily give itself enough credit as it sits in the shadow of Victorian Village. There are already many revitalized houses along with a few opportunities to rehab still available. The residents are as dedicated to their neighborhood as those in Victorian and Italian Villages, and Joe firmly believes that Harrison West could host its own home tour. Do you think we could get Joe to come in as tour captain?

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