At the heart of Hancock County is one thing: the community. The people who make up the community are unique and diverse in interests, backgrounds, and stories. Over the next few months we will be highlighting members of the community that you may see behind a shop counter, at an event, in the grocery store and their stories. We are kicking off this special series by featuring Bill Wolf, Jr., the owner of Wolfies Nuts.
While it may not have been called Wolfies since the beginning, the roasted nuts at Wolfies have been a Findlay and Hancock County staple for decades. Growing up in Findlay, Bill Wolf was a frequent visitor to his local corner store, Maggie’s Grocery, which was ran out of the first floor of Maggie Phillips’ home on Glessner Avenue. The Phillips family had ran the operation since the 1930’s, which included delicious roasted nuts. Bill would pick up penny candy, comic books, and would revel in the aroma of freshly roasted nuts. Bill would become very close to Maggie and still remembers her in an aqua dress behind the deli counter and teaching him the process of roasting her specialty redskin nuts. Eventually Maggie’s Grocery was sold and a career managing large grocery stores in Dayton ended, bringing Bill back to his home – Findlay. Around Thanksgiving 1995 everything came together and Bill was able to purchase what was originally Maggie’s Grocery and named it Wolfies Premium Gourmet Nuts, affectionately known to all as “Wolfies”. Bill used the knowledge imparted upon him from Maggie, as well as having several employees, family members, and friends taste test until Bill could perfect the roasted nut recipe. As he was trying to find the exact formula Maggie used, his brother discovered Maggie’s original recipe while cleaning cupboards in the store and so Maggie’s exact recipe continues. Shortly after Bill’s acquisition of Maggie’s Grocery, another Findlay store, Totem Nuts, contacted him and sold their recipes and equipment to him as well, furthering Wolfies stock of quality recipes and specialized roasting processes. Since 1995, Wolfies has grown. Wolfies expanded to several drive-thru’s and a higher end store that featured live music, fine wine, craft beer and featured wine and beer tastings and live music. By 2007 Bill has sold all the drive-thru’s to friends who are still successfully running them today and closed the fine goods store and focused on his
remaining store, which moved to Carriage House Plaza in 2010 where it is still in operation today and features a large variety of roasted nuts, as well as an expansive selection of craft beers and home brewing equipment.
Although some times have been easier than others, Bill and Wolfies Nuts successes have been well documented. In 2003 Wolfies was featured on an episode of Food Finds on the Food Network and Bill remembers the exact day and time it aired, August 15 at 9:00 p.m., and the ensuing flood of web and phone orders he and his staff took throughout the night. The success from that small segment continued as the episode was shown for about five years in reruns and remains one of Bill’s most memorable moments. Wolfies has also been featured in Better Homes and Gardens magazine and ships product around the country and Canada. Wolfies has a private label that is a favorite among country clubs in Chicago and Wolfies’ largest order is made at the holidays by an attorney in Miami, Florida who is a fan of gifting clients the Nut of the Month Club. As Bill is a fan of a good IPA and other craft beers, Wolfies expanded into a premier location to pick up not only fantastic nuts but also the perfect 6 pack to accompany them. Wolfies has a great selection of craft beer in stock and are also willing to order whatever your favorite is, if it isn’t already in stock. Bill was also one of the founders of the Hancock County Home Brewers Association in December 2007 and the group, which meets monthly, now has over 400 registered members. Wolfies keeps a great stock of home brewing gear in the store and Bill is always willing to answer any questions a new brewer may have. Bill’s passion for Findlay (and great beer) is evident as he was one of the driving forces in forming Downtown Findlay’s OktoberFest which will celebrate its second year on September 24, 2016. In fact, fun events and activities like Oktoberfest, in addition to witnessing the growth of the
area in the past few years, is Bill’s favorite part of the community. And supporting Findlay and Hancock County is something Bill definitely does. Along with his wife and children, he enjoys taking advantage of the Hancock Park District and one of his favorite things to do is sit by the river and support different school events. He enjoys many of the local restaurants, including Tokyo Steakhouse and is an avid fan of Cedar Valley Cafe. And as for his favorite Wolfies product, he wouldn’t say (he said the others wouldn’t like it!), but his favorite part of his job is sampling the different beers and products that will grace his shelves. As for new products coming and looking ahead, Bill teased that the Wing Nuts are delicious and some fun mixes will be hitting the shelves soon…and we can’t wait!
You can find Bill at Wolfies Nuts, located in Carriage House Plaza, 1016 Tiffin Ave., Unit C in Findlay, Monday – Friday 10 a.m. – 6 p.m. and Saturdays from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m., online, on Facebook, and on Twitter.
Make sure to check back next month to see who we be shining the spotlight on next! In the meantime, don’t miss any of the events taking place in Hancock County by visiting our event calendar. Stay busy this summer by checking items off your Hancock County Summer Bucket List, visit a Farmers’ Market, or see how many hidden gems you can uncover in Hancock County!