Stars Align to bring barbecue to Denville

Jillian Risberg 

Anyone wh

o enjoys wings, ribs, pulled pork, sloppy joe’s, subs and more homemade food has a new hometown haunt to check out on Route 10 in Denville.

In August, Sheimer’s Deli took over the space previously occupied by Bon Appetit at 3110 State Route 10 West. 

“I did competition barbecue in the past, I like to cook, ribs — it’s what I do best, well cooked, baby back style, and I always said to myself if the opportunity ever comes about I’m gonna open up a deli,” says owner, Mike Hettesheimer.

And it did, when the Boonton couple was driving by one afternoon to grab lunch at Bon Appetit, as they frequently did and learned the 25-year-old mainstay had gone out of business.  Mike told his wife, Fran Hettesheimer, ‘it won’t be for long.’
One local resident definitely understands why.

“Whether it’s off dirt roads in Texas or this place in Kansas City, where one of the best places is actually in a gas station, the ribs were out of this world,” says realtor Jason Cohen, a former traveling salesman. “I would put his ribs right up against those.”

A prolific businessman, Mike — who also owns a sign shop and technology company; all started from the ground up, “I sell signs, servers and sandwiches” took it upon himself to do some research and made it happen.

“You’re only as good as your last deal. The only person that can predict your future is your workmanship. So it’s up to me to make it successful,” says the Kearny native.

All this was going on under the radar, unbeknownst to his wife, Fran Hettesheimer.

“I was completely surprised,” Fran says.  “It was three weeks before I had my fourth child.”

They ended up gutting the whole place and creating an original space. 

This was just a natural progression for the Hettesheimers, who love to entertain.

“Any reason to have a birthday, a party, celebration, it’s always at our house,” Fran says. “And then he tailgates every single Jets game (at the Meadowlands) and has customers coming in 40 to 80 people tailgates, so we would make all the food for that stuff.”

Items like sausage sandwiches, Italian hotdogs, just about anything one can think up or have a craving for.  


With their collection of great recipes, they decided to do more.

“I started the permits to build a catering kitchen in the basement (of the deli) because I see the potential of this,” Mike says.  “I want to build the business. So I’m reinvesting into myself.”    

Sheimer’s catered the 25th anniversary party for the Denville office of ConvergeOne, where Liz Bilney works and she 

says it was quite a spread.

“The price was phenomenal and that included one person to clear anything that spilled, refurbish whatever for two 

hours, they stayed for three,” Bilney says.  “We had a whole catered breakfast — spiral ham with pineapple, all kinds of deserts, three different kinds of pancakes, sausage, peppers and onions, bagels, pastries, home fries, bacon, whatever you can think of basically.”

Bilney says Mike made most of the arrangements, except they had a gorgeous fruit platter with huge, fresh 

blackberries, kiwi and other fruits.

“I wanted the creamy cream cheese fruit sauce and every time I asked for it from other people, they sent me whipped cream, they sent me cool whip, all the things I don’t want,” the Newton resident says.  “Fran knew right off the bat.  It was fresh made, everything and then she surprised us ‘cause she also sent chocolate dip for the fruit, 

strawberries and pineapple, which was great.”

According to Bilney, she’s in Brookside Business Park, which has six buildings, all of which use catering.  The people

in the Parsippany branch of her company also use Sheimer’s and anyone can utilize their catering service for outside barbecues and tent parties.

And Cohen says the sandwiches are delicious. He gave high praise to the ribs, pastrami, rosemary fries, empanadas and mozzarella sticks as well. 

He says the restaurant is immaculate and fresh.

“When I see an existing business that went out of business and it comes back — under new ownership; I just love 

that,” Cohen says. “They’ve delivered a couple of times, very quickly  and even during peak lunch delivery times.”

According to the mom of four — it’s nice to have financial backup and a little leeway.  

“In the beginning it’s all about figuring things out, even if you’ve done this before — demographics, different places, you don’t know what certain people want or like and changing up the menu,” Fran says.  

Had they opened anywhere else Fran says things might have been different but Denville is so supportive of its 

businesses and that has made all the difference.

“I do everything in Denville,” she says.  “To have a business in Denville; I’m ecstatic.”

Mike says the response from the community has been unbelievable.

“People want a clean, good place where the food tastes good,” he says.  “And we’re willing to try different things.”

Ginger Vukas, of Randolph randomly stopped into Sheimer’s while construction was being done on her house and she needed a place close by to get her contractors lunch.  

“Their food is delicious, they have a very broad menu — they serve breakfast, lunch and dinner,” Vukas says. “I’m part of the ‘Moms of Morris’ Facebook group and I recommended them on there.  They have hot sandwiches, regular subs, soups, hot meals. Since they’ve been open we’ve tried almost everything because we’ve had no kitchen.”

With the other side of town having many more convenient places to go — the Hettesheimers appreciate the fact that customers are making the trip out to Sheimer’s.

“‘Cause on Route 10, you get lost,” Fran says.  “People forget that this is also Denville. But  they’re definitely coming 

and exploring and we deliver to all of Denville.”

Cohen lives in Union Hill, where a lot of businesses are downtown or on Route 53.

“They’re a schlep,” the realtor says.  “I think Sheimer’s fills a big void on our side of town for something’s that fresh, it’s fast, it’s local. It’s awesome.” 

According to Mike, Denville wants to see growth and they want a town that’s successful.

“They do that within their businesses,” he says.  “It’s a smart model.”

“I’ve never seen anything like that before and I’ve lived in quite a few towns,” Mike says.  “The mayor has gotten involved with us, he cut the ribbon on our grand opening.  You can sense that they make businesses valuable to the town. They make people want to live in the community when you see how involved everybody is.”  

According to Vukas, the deli staff is customer focused and Sheimer’s prices are extremely competitive compared to similar businesses in the area.

Fran says she’s lived in the deli every single day since they opened. 

“I cannot not be here,” she says.  “It’s a lot of work. You have to know that you’re gonna put everything into it. We’re Hettesheimer, that’s where Sheimer’s came from. It’s our name, our faith, our family, our business. This isn’t a franchise.”

And Mike says they named a bunch of sandwiches after his college fraternity brothers to keep the atmosphere light and fun and engage the customers. 

“It’s like having someone cooking sandwiches in your backyard,” Vukas says.


When they first opened a customer called and said they couldn’t get there ’til closing at 7 p.m. and Fran told them they’d wait.

“My husband and I just hung out and they came in and we got to talking. They left and posted something on Facebook,” she says.  “I thought, you know, it meant so much to them that we waited. I feel like th

at’s customer service. That’s what you do and I never would think not to do that.”

They want to make it a wonderful customer experience and that’s all about being accommodating, she says.

“Because we have those customers come back time and time again,” she says.

And Sheimer’s is really resonating with the public, who want more of that comfort food that’s so difficult to find nowadays, like places that do paninis and delis that are open for dinner.

“Being that we’re on Route 10, you know the bumper to bumper on Route 10 at night,” Fran says.  

“So people can call and literally just pull in and have food ready to go. It’s on their way home and they’re just sitting in traffic anyway.  The fact that we’re open for dinner for them is just a bonus.”


It’s been an exciting time for the couple and the Hettesheimers are already looking down the road at possibly opening a second Sheimer’s location.
“Let’s see how this goes obviously. I’d like to go into a community that’s looking for what we have to offer,” Mike says, adding that if he opened a second Sheimer’s, it would also be in Morris County.

Her construction is wrapping up but that won’t change Vukas’ love affair with Sheimer’s.  

“I still keep going,” the community volunteer says, adding that her husband does too.  

“Now it’s like his favorite deli,” she says.  “He cannot get enough of it.  So they not only won over me, but they won over my husband.”



3110 State Route 10 West, Denville
(973) 302-3280 – Main
(844) 743-4637 – Toll Free

Try one of their favorites:
The Sheimer- Turkey, choice of cheese, bacon, avocado, lettuce, tomato, mayo on multigrain bread

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