We like to stop in Clear Lake, IA when we pass by on our way either to or from the Twin Cities. On a trip to the Twin Cities earlier this year, we stopped in Clear Lake around the lunch hour to look for something to eat. Along Main Ave. in the downtown area are a number of shops and small restaurants. We found a little deli a couple three blocks from the lake that we wanted to try - the Starboard Market. (see map)
Roger Poole worked for the railroad and his job took him to a number of places around the nation. Along with his wife, Sue, and their three children - Jennifer, Katie and Brian - the family moved a number of times depending upon his job. They lived in Pennsylvania, Colorado, Nebraska, Minnesota and Wisconsin before ending up in the Des Moines area in the 1980's. Sue - who was a high school English teacher - was also a good cook encouraging her daughters to help out during family meals so they could learn their way around a kitchen.
Roger and Sue bought a house in Clear Lake in 1993 and the family moved there in 1999 after Roger retired. Hoping to turn some of her kitchen smarts into a small business, Sue Poole opened a little deli that featured sandwiches, soups, salads and baked goods. She gave the place a nautical theme and called it the Starboard Market.
Sue and her daughter Jennifer ran the deli with Roger helping out by bussing tables. Katie would work in the deli during her summer breaks from college, and with some arm-twisting from her older sister she started to work in the deli full time after she graduated. While the deli was only open from 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, the family was always at the deli by 5 a.m. baking the lemon bars and brownies they sold along with the house-made pasta and vegetable salads they had available to go along with their deli sandwiches.
In December of 2005, the Poole family had double devastating news. Roger Poole was diagnosed with prostate cancer and two weeks later Sue Poole was diagnosed with multiple myeloma after she fell on some steps and shattered her leg. Roger's cancer was removed from his body in March of 2006, but Sue Poole underwent a number of procedures over the years including hip replacements, two stem cell transplants and multiple surgeries before succumbing to cancer in September of 2012. Jennifer and Katie carried on her mother's legacy and continue to run the little deli to this day.
We got into the Starboard Market just after 1 p.m. and found a small line at the counter ordering sandwiches. The place was not very big - it sat, maybe, 20 people on glass-topped four-seater tables.
On the wall behind the counter was the menu of sandwiches, soups, salads and sides the Starboard Market had to offer. Katie Poole was at the counter and she took our order for lunch. The menu featured over two dozen specialty sandwiches including a traditional muffuletta sandwich, the Market tuna salad sandwich, and a sandwich known as "The Dude", which is Jennifer Poole Coffman's nickname for her younger sister who came up with the concoction. The sandwich featured sliced turkey breast topped with pepperjack cheese, bacon, lettuce, red onion slices and finished with some ranch dressing and served on a kaiser roll. It's the most popular sandwich at the Starboard Market.
The case next to the order counter held all the salads and sides the deli had to offer. They had broccoli salad, different pasta salads - some with meat, potato salad and a number of other items to choose from to go along with the sandwiches, all of which are made in house. The Starboard Market also offers a number of gluten free items on their menu, as well.
On the counter near the register were a number of dessert bars to choose from. They featured cookies - chocolate chip, oatmeal raisin, snickerdoodle were some of the ones they had that day - as well as a number of fresh-baked bars such as cheesecake brownies, scotcheroos, and vanilla toffee bars. The lemon bars looked especially scrumptious.
After ordering our sandwiches, we took a seat at a table. On one wall were a number of historical boats that were seen on Clear Lake up to 80 years ago - and more. Some were excursion boats that took people on sight-seeing tours around the lake, while others were large privately owned vessels.
Keeping with the nautical theme of the deli, along another wall were a number of framed old advertisements for Dodge boats that were popular in the 1920's and 30's. These classic wooden runabout boats were on Clear Lake for a number of years and a restored Dodge boat from the 30's fetches well into six figures.
They allow customers to build their own sandwiches at the Starboard Market as they offer nearly a dozen different meats or spreads, a like number of cheeses to choose from, nine different types of breads, and a number of condiments and sliced vegetables to compliment any sandwich. I went with my favorite style of deli sandwich - the pastrami and Swiss cheese with yellow mustard on pumpernickel rye bread. Cindy talked me into getting a side of the pasta salad because she wanted to try some.
Cindy got half of the Capone speciality sandwich - sliced prosciutto and ham along provolone and mozzarella cheese, topped with roasted red bell peppers, lettuce, tomato, oregano and finished with a red wine vinegar and oil and served on a hoagie bun. She got the broccoli salad to go along with her sandwich.