While ownership of Odie’s Deli has changed hands, customers should not expect anything different from either location in Soldotna and Kenai.
Melodie Symington, who first opened Odie’s Deli in 2005 in Soldotna, has transferred ownership to Megan Schaafsma effective today. The Kenai City Council on Wednesday approved a concession agreement for Schaafsma to take over the lease of the restaurant in the Kenai Municipal Airport. Symington signed a five-year lease in the airport terminal this January.
Symington said her family is moving to eastern Washington where they is involved in another restaurant. She said she has been thinking about the move for a couple years and briefly put the Soldotna restaurant on the market last year. It wasn’t until a couple months ago when Schaafsma showed interest in continuing the business.
“(Schaafsma) loves the Odie’s name and product and is such a good person to continue on the way we have done things,” Symington said. “I am so blessed to be part of this community and meet so many people. I enjoyed it more than I ever imagined.”
Schaafsma, who worked at Odie’s Deli in Soldotna for three years and one year as manager, helped start the pub quiz Wednesday nights at the restaurant. She has spent the majority of her life in Alaska while her husband, Andy Schaafsma was born and raised in Soldotna. She said they are excited to start this venture together.
“We have always wanted to own a restaurant,” she said. “It came together natural and organically. I am just picking up (Symington’s) baby and continue what she started.”
Schaafsma said customers should not expect any changes from transition. She said the same great food and great service would continue. In the future she said she would like to bring in more community events at both locations.
“(Symington) has developed an amazing menu,” she said. “The bread and cookies are fantastic. We have a fantastic staff and amazing loyalty.”
While Schaafsma has been away from the business for the last two years, she helped Symington launch the Kenai location. Symington will stick around for a couple months to help with the transition to get Schaafsma familiar with the day-to-day operations.
Schaafsma has previous management experience in the food industry at a couple restaurants in the Boston, Massachusetts area.
“She is familiar with a lot of the business and has a great head on her shoulders,” Symington said.
Prior to Odie’s Deli opening in Soldotna, the building used to be home to Fat Teddies Deli before sitting empty for a year, Schaafsma said. Before that it was a Wendy’s and a Burger King fast food restaurant, she said. Odie’s has been a staple in the community and she would like to see it continue to be a place for people to gather.
Symington said she will have fond memories of her three children growing up in the restaurant business, which helped teach them leadership and work ethic and how to treat customers.
“I think it’s great experience for kids to have a part in the family business,” she said. “It gave us a sense of belonging and was fun for us to have that connection with the community.”