While working for Southwest Airlines, husband and wife Eric Heimbrecht and Tracy Baker frequently flew around the country.

Their list of destinations clicked steadily upwards, and so did their intake of deli sandwiches.

“As we’ve traveled around the U.S., we always visited delis,” Baker said. "[Heimbrecht has] always wanted to open a deli; it’s been his dream, and we saw a need in Roanoke.”

In 2019, the duo built a home in Roanoke, fell in love with the community and opened Heimbaker’s Market & Deli in 2022.

How it started

When conceptualizing the business, they pulled from all the positive experiences they had at other delis. That included not only making sandwiches using locally sourced ingredients, but also selling market items, such as fresh eggs, imported pastas and sauces, and more.

Baker said she takes care of the market by sourcing and ordering items while Heimbrecht manages the back of the house, including managing the menu and day-to-day operations.

Popular menu items

Their Italian Hero Hoagie is the top-selling menu item, the owners said. Not far behind in the popularity contest is the Frito Pie made with housemade chili using Baker’s aunt’s recipe. The chicken salad sandwich features Baker’s grandpa’s recipe and finishes out the top three most-requested items.

Also of note

The couple has a strong desire to stay connected to the community, they said. In addition to sourcing local items as much as possible, they also sponsor local events. Heimbrecht graduated from the Roanoke Citizen’s Police Academy, and Baker completed the Roanoke Citizen’s Academy.

“We look for first responders. Anything they ask of us, we’re there for them,” Baker said. “That is huge for us.”

The future

The owners have been asked to open similar concepts in two towns, but Baker said they are not ready to take that step.

“We’re moving at a slower pace because we don’t want to lose that hometown feel,” Baker said. “We don’t want to be corporate, have a ton of shops; we want to be unique. Eventually we’ll have more shops, but only in small towns.”

Additional reporting by Jonathan Perriello