By Heather Clower
The Parsons Advocate
Big Belly Deli, owned and operated by Ron Tate and his significant other, April Welsh, were going about their business just last week when a customer came in to share the good news. The patron pulled out their phone and showed the Facebook announcement declaring their deli’s Cowboy Cookie “The best chocolate chip cookie in the state of West Virginia.”
“We didn’t even know that was a thing,” declared Tate explaining how shocked he was at the news. He informed this is actually their second honor in the last month. In addition to the deli, the couple own and operate Muttley’s Steakhouse, which was named one of the top seven steakhouses in WV.
Muttley’s was formerly owned by Randy and Becky Colombo. Tate, originally from Pennsylvania, came to the area with Welsh in 2010, when they began working for the Colombo’s at the steakhouse. One day they were tossing around ideas with the owners of what the area could benefit from without competing with other local businesses. Tate suggested either a wing/bbq or sandwich shop. Colombo agreed the sandwich shop would be a perfect fit to take over Muttley’s former bar space, therefore Big Belly Deli was born in 2013. Prior to the passing of the Colombo family, Tate and Welsh purchased the adjoining steakhouse to continue providing quality services and food to the area.
“April enjoys baking,” Tate stated when asked how this famous cookie came into play. “We feel you should always have at least a little something sweet to end a meal,” therefore they added a cookie to every order that is made. “This is one recipe used that is not a true family recipe,” he explained. Tate actually has three degrees, those being Psychology, Theatre, and Culinary Arts. During his studies, he volunteered in a therapeutic horseback riding facility where they held a bake sale as a fundraiser. One of the “Sweet Mom’s” had made her Cowboy Cookies for the event. Tate commented every time he went by the table, he tossed the money in and grabbed another bag of these delicious treats claiming they kept getting better and better the more he ate. He asked the baker for her recipe, but she claimed he was too busy to be baking so she took it upon herself to make him a batch whenever his Tupperware turned up empty. “I have no clue how she came up with this recipe,” he claims. At his graduation, “Mom” offered quite an impactful graduation gift to Tate. A double batch of Cowboy Cookies with the recipe taped on the lid.
When Welsh and Tate decided on adding these cookies to the meal, he suggested this recipe and they were instantly a hit. Welsh bakes three to six dozen of these famous cookies fresh every day, and in the last five years has baked an estimated 350,000 of these treats. In addition to the deli and steakhouse, they offer catering services. Tate laughed, “I think some of the catering’s happen because they know they’re getting a cookie tray!” These cookies, oddly enough, aren’t even on the menu. The only reason these cookies have become famous is their feeling of ending a meal on a sweet note and adding to the side of every order. When asked if they might consider adding batches of cookies to their deli menu, Tate responded, “We’re going to have to after this!”