Jennie Schaffner: ‘Sandwich goddess’ extraordinaire |

Jennie Schaffner: ‘Sandwich goddess’ extraordinaire

Jennie Schaffner relaxes following the afternoon lunch rush at Carelli's Pizzeria & Pasta. Schaffner has worked at the restaurant for the past two years, primarily making sandwiches.
Andy Bockelman

Cheesy pizza pies, fresh green salads, savory soups, tasty suds.

These are some of the offerings available at downtown eatery Carelli’s Pizzeria & Pasta, and if you’ve stopped in there lately, you’ve likely had your order served up to you with a smile by Jennie Schaffner.

Schaffner has worked at the Craig hot spot for about two years and has loved every minute of it. Her domain is primarily behind the counter, assembling the many different sandwiches that make up the Italian restaurant’s menu, jokingly referring to herself as Carelli’s resident “sandwich goddess.”

A sense of humor is a must among the business’s employees, with morale high thanks to a sense of camaraderie that’s ever-present.

“We’re one big team here, we’re a family,” Schaffner said. “It’s a relaxed atmosphere, but we get our work done and we have pride in what we do.”

Schaffner said she has enjoyed watching way customers respond to the way owner Brett Etzler has run things since purchasing the restaurant in January 2011, one element of which is the beer selections available at Carelli’s.

“He’s always bringing in new brewers, and there are just so many microbreweries all over Colorado,” she said. “I didn’t know anything about them before I started here.”

Working in the bakery and deli sections of City Market and as a manager at Taco Bell previously, Schaffner’s had time to observe the dos and don’ts of the food service industry.

“It was perfect for me coming here because I already knew about using the (meat) slicer and counter service, and it all fit,” she said.

Maintaining a good attitude on behalf of the rest of the workplace is important, she added.

“For me, I always try to do the little things, like greet people and treat them like you’d want to be treated and just go that little extra mile because everybody needs that,” she said.

Apart from work, Schaffner, 39, is a single mother to three kids ranging in age from 3 to 16.

“I’ve got my family at Carelli’s and my family at home, that’s what I do,” she said.

Etzler said employees like Schaffner who keep regulars coming back have been crucial to his establishment’s success as he nears three years as owner.

“She’s kind of my right hand, me at the pizza area, her at the sandwich area,” he said. “We’re a good duo, for sure. It’s pretty fast-paced at lunch here, and she’s got great customer service. She’s a big asset to our operation, and I hope she stays here for many years to come.”

Andy Bockelman can be reached at 970-875-1793 or

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