ST. MARYS — Johnsonburg native Bill Thompson connects with the community through offering both quality meats and acoustic-music entertainment.
Thompson, owner of Thompson’s Deli at 63 Erie Ave. in downtown St. Marys, approached Family Food and Deli in Johnsonburg in 1996 about buying the business, adding some of his own homemade products along the way. He also worked at the meat shop Market Basket for five years.
Thompson moved the deli to St. Marys in 2007, where he was welcomed with open arms, he said.
“I had a lot of St. Marys customers when I was in Johnsonburg, and I knew I’d be okay here,” Thompson said.
Growing up, Thompson learned a bit about the butcher trade on his uncle’s farm, he said, but that wasn’t what he grew to love about it.
“I just enjoy meeting and working with people,” he said. “It’s better to work to serve other people.”
He started out just offering meats and cheeses, but wanted a greater variety, Thompson said. He began adding prepared foods like his stuffed-chicken breast and pork chops, a community favorite, and Italian wedding soup. In the winter, Thompson says he will make around 50 quarts of soup per week.
Other popular deli items include sausage, homemade meatballs, beef-on-wick — a high-selling item during the holidays — and baked ziti. There are also some Italian grocery products, such as canned sauces, for sale. Thompson will make trays and take-out foods for occasions like graduation parties as well, something he says is a big part of his business.
Slicing homemade meats isn’t Thompson’s only noteworthy skill. He plays bass and sings in the popular DuBois-based band “The Ride.” He also performs a solo and acoustic act, “Bill Thompson Unplugged,” regularly, playing at DuBois locations like The Hitching Post and The Gateway Cafe. He will perform at Greenlite Restaurant and Lounge on Brusselles Street in St. Marys at 9 p.m. Feb. 28.
Thompson said he is grateful for the friends he has made through the deli business, and for people who support local businesses.
“I have some great regular customers — that’s what keeps me going,” Thompson said.