Callie Kay’s deli delights customers
Ashley Simmons satisfied her big city food craving by opening a deli in her new hometown of Hilliard.
Callie Kay’s General Store and Deli sells Boar’s Head meats and cheeses. The deli opened in April as an addition to the existing general store Simmons took ownership of 12 months earlier. She previously lived in Duval County.
“There’s just nowhere around here to get these products,” Simmons said. “I was driving to Jacksonville every Sunday to get these products myself.”
The store’s interior features a rustic theme with Simmons’ sauces, apple butter, jams and relishes on display. She creates them from her own recipes. Krispy Kreme doughnuts are also available.
The shelves are stocked with children’s games and toys, art supplies, handcrafted soaps, shampoo and aromatherapy items.
But in the deli, the sandwich is the star, with fresh bread delivered throughout the week. Customers may also order deli meats and cheeses in quantities of 1 pound or more each for delivery on Wednesdays. All major credit cards are accepted. Seating for inside and outside dining are steps away from the main shopping areas. Lisa Williams is the deli store manager.
Hanna Williams recently visited the deli for lunch.
“I love it,” she said. “I love subs in general. I feel like it fits in Hilliard because it’s nice and country and everybody’s laid back. Everything they have is in style.”
Wallace Lee also enjoys the food and atmosphere. He likes that the store is close to his Hilliard home.
“It’s very good,” he said. “It’s kind of unique. It’s different and Hilliard needs something like this. It means not having to drive all the way to town. They have superior products.”
The store’s inventory is a nod to western Nassau as many of the children’s toys have a rural theme or are based on occupations in the area.
“We have a 7-year-old daughter that goes to school here, so if she gets invited to a birthday party, she can get a nice gift without my driving to Jacksonville,” Simmons said.
The original Callie Kay’s General Store and Outfitters opened in 2002 and was named for Callie Kay Franklin, who was then 12 years old.
Simmons and Lewis Rhoden opted to retain the store’s moniker, listing themselves and children Ridge, Marissa, Ashley and Kennedy as storeowners.
Simmons appreciates the feedback and support that she receives from fellow business owners.
“That relationship is what gives me faith that owning a brick and mortar store in an online world in a town that has one red light will make it,” Simmons said.
Regular social media updates inform customers of soup and dessert offerings available. The store and deli are open Monday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
“We just want to keep serving fresh sandwiches and products that our customers want and need,” Simmons said.
Shoppers can find boots, outerwear, work clothes and western clothing for men, women and children. The store includes an expanded area that is stocked with sporting goods, ammunition and firearms, gear for hunting and fishing, bait and deer feed.
“If you think of it, I’ve got it,” Rhoden said.
He encourages residents to save a trip to Jacksonville and buy local instead.
“It’s been good,” Rhoden said. “Everybody’s been supportive. I like to treat people the way I like to be treated and the feedback has been positive.”
Rylee English has worked as a sales associate since October. She plans to stay on until she starts college in the fall.
“It’s hometown-y,” she said. “You see people you know in here all the time and I get a chance to help them.”
Coworker Cassie Bran-nan receives merchandise and expedites it to the sales floor.
“I love it,” she said of working locally. “I live, like, two minutes down the road. I’d rather stay here. I love my hometown.”
Manager Dawn Colley supports the homespun atmosphere.
“We want them to feel welcomed in the store,” she said. “We want to help find what they’re looking for and we try to keep prices unbeatable. If we don’t have it in the store, we will try to order it for them so they don’t have to drive to Jacksonville.”
The outdoor sportsman section is open Monday through Saturday, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.