Where can you go for authentic Pennsylvania style hoagies right here in Wichita Falls? Well, the Deli Planet, of course. Located at 4014 Sheppard Access Road. Their menu wide range of goodies on it, from pulled pork sandwiches to deep-fried Snickers bars.
Eric and Rebecca Rutledge own this local institution. Chef Eric attended the culinary school at the Dallas Art Institute, and the food reflects that education.
So much of the food is done in house where they have approximately 20 employees. The meat is freshly hand sliced every day along with the tomatoes and onions. “Our specialty is hoagies. The difference between a sub and a hoagie is that the hoagie is predesigned,” said Eric. Rebecca continued, “It also has to have either a pepper spread or a hoagie dressing which is a vinaigrette. We fresh bake our breads every day. Some of our offerings are unique because our chicken and burgers are never frozen. Most of our dressings are made fresh here. Even our Kaiser buns that we use for hamburgers are all baked fresh here every day. The recipes on the selection of products have remained consistent so that the customer gets the same quality every time. Eric will not settle for anything less when it comes to that. For example, we have a certain salami and there is no substitution. I think what really makes the difference is that we are consistent in our training and our recipes so that we really keep it to what the customer expects. We have one guy who literally does just prep, we have an opener who bakes the bread every day and does the fresh slicing every day. We have a truck that comes in every other day, and the products are always fresh. There’s no sitting in a box frozen. Our customers see that the quality of what they are getting for the price is phenomenal,” Rebecca bragged.
They also serve appetizers, but not like everyone else. “We don’t take frozen mozzarella sticks and fry them. Our answer to that is our 6-cheese quesadilla.” And don’t forget that unique fried Snickers bar. They put it in a tortilla and use an egg-white wash. It is then frozen, and once it is deep-fried, they sprinkle it with powdered sugar and add a little more chocolate. It comes out flaky and delicious. “We are also diet-friendly and have many keto friendly items. The bacon cheeseburger salad is really popular, and we can make any hoagie into a salad,” Rebecca said, “We are family owned and operated for over 20 years. We are hands-on and in the store every single day. I would say that we are an American casual restaurant and a family restaurant, and you get treated like family over here.” In fact, all 8 of their children have worked there or still work there, and Eric’s mother does the books.
Deli Planet also caters. They prefer to create a custom menu for each client. “Not everyone knows what they want, but they know what they like. We sit down and design a menu for each customer,” Rebecca explained.
They are community minded. Even though they are not in the heart of downtown, they sponsor an artist for the After Hours Art Walk each month.
“We donate food to high school seniors on Senior Night when they have their lock-in, and we feed them through the night. We do a lot with the Faith Refuge. They have a continuing education class going on out there, and we want to show the women that when they try to better themselves, the community is there for them. So, at the end of the week we take food out there for them, and we actually hired 2 of them,” Rebecca said with a smile. “The biggest thing we do, I guess, is on Thanksgiving, when we open only to Air Force Airmen and feed them for free. We cook a big traditional Thanksgiving meal with the traditional style buffet serving. We watch football, and we have great Wi-Fi. They call their family and send videos. It is all free, and we have local donations of desserts, and volunteers get to be the staff. We also donate to the Kemp Center for the Arts and The Forum. It all comes back around. I believe that your community is what you make it, and more people should get involved,” she said emphatically.
Deli Planet is located by the Sheppard Air Force Base main gate, “just 15 minutes from anywhere in Wichita Falls. I would say that our restaurant has 2 personalities. During the day we usually have blue collar workers, and at night we have families and airmen hanging out,” Rebecca said. Not only is the food to die for, but they have a pool table, a corn hole game, and a full bar.
“It is a full-service restaurant. I tell everyone to come out and see what you are missing. If you have never been here, you don’t know what to expect. We have Pennsylvania style hoagies, Philly cheese steaks, soups, appetizers, sandwiches, salads, wraps, desserts and sharables,” Chef Eric proudly exclaimed, “Every restaurant person wants to hear ‘Awesome!’ and we hear that a lot!”
-Cindy Kahler Thomas