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New deli aims to offer more dining options for residents

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Knobby’s Deli to open next week in old Big Chief location

By Zac Oakes

Diane Marinelli did not plan to stay in Campbellsville for very long.

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The plan was simple. Help her mother, Ruth Knoblauch, move into her new home in Campbellsville after she retired, and then go back home to resume her normal life.

After Marinelli helped her mother move, she stayed in the area for a while helping her unpack and get adjusted to a new city. Although she had planned on going back home, instead, Marinelli bought a home in Taylor County.

“I just couldn’t leave,” Marinelli said. “Something wasn’t right about leaving.”

Since she’s been here, she and Knoblauch saw an opening to go into business together.

What started out as a simple idea turned into a business expected to open next week named Knobby’s Deli.

The restaurant is located on South Columbia Avenue in the old Big Chief Burgers building, across from the Campbellsville Independent Schools Central Office.

With the help of their friend Mike Burkhardt, they have made some renovations to the building to prepare the restaurant for opening.

The mother-daughter duo said that after Knoblauch moved into the area, they dined out frequently and began thinking about what it would be like to have a dining option different than other restaurants already in the area.

“We went out to eat a lot as we unpacked,” Marinelli said. “We didn’t really see a whole lot to offer in the area of a deli, like soups, salads, and comfort food.”

Marinelli and Knoblauch bring a wealth of food service experience to Campbellsville, working in the food service industry for more than 40 years.

“We’ve been in the restaurant business basically all our lives,” Marinelli said. 

Among the family’s food service ventures are an Italian restaurant in California, a hot dog stand and vending truck in Chicago, and a deli in Florida.

Those businesses were operated with Ruth’s husband and Diane’s father, who passed away about two years ago. The name of the restaurant is in honor of him, as it was a name used in several of their other food service businesses.

“The name was to carry on my dad’s spirit, basically,” Marinelli said. “That was the name of his hot dog stand. When we came to Campbellsville, we came up with all these other names that were not Knobby’s, and we were sitting in our accountant’s office, ready to finalize the paperwork and I just said, ‘We have to bring Dad into this.’”

Marinelli said she believes her father would be proud of them for going into business together, along with Diane’s younger sister, Nikki Knoblauch, who came to the area after being displaced by Hurricane Irma.

“I just think he would be so happy that us girls did it together one more time, in his honor,” Marinelli said.

What can Campbellsville residents expect from the new dining option?

“A lot of homemade food,” Marinelli said. “A lot of really good homemade soups. We plan to have two soups and a chili each day. For breakfast, we’ll have things like stuffed French toast, pancakes, waffles, omelets, eggs, bacon, breakfast sandwiches, all of that. Also, we’ll be doing Reubens, Philly cheesesteaks, cold deli sandwiches, healthy options, and gluten-free options.”

The restaurant plans to carry Boar’s Head Meat, a brand of meat which isn’t available in the area. The closest area to be able to purchase it is in Elizabethtown. Marinelli said they plan to sell the meat in half-pound purchases as well.

Down the road, Marinelli said they want to offer catering options and business deliveries.

The restaurant has a tagline of “breakfast, lunch, and things to munch.” Marinelli said the “things to munch” part comes from her mother’s incredible baking ability.

“My mom is an amazing baker,” she said. “She does muffins, brownies, cornbread, and all those little extra things like pastries, cheesecakes, and all of that. She is so good at it.”

As of now, the restaurant hours are flexible. Marinelli said she plans to adjust the hours to fit her customers’ needs better. She said they plan to be open from 5 a.m. to 5 p.m. with the restaurant being open Monday-Saturday and closed on Sunday.

“Those hours are going to be negotiable for sure,” Marinelli said.

“I think this is going to be a lot of fun,” she added. “We are so excited about it. I think the people of Campbellsville and Taylor County are going to love it.”

No official opening date is set for Knobby’s Deli, but Marinelli and Knoblauch said it will be one day next week.