Where do I start? I've been in the restaurant business going on 30 years. I started when I was 14.
I moved to Johns Island from Denver, Colo. I owned a restaurant in downtown Denver, a huge monstrosity of a place. It was called the Appaloosa Grill. It was on the busiest pedestrian intersections in the state of Colorado. We decided to have my partners buy me out and we moved here to try to do something slower paced. Johns Island fit that description perfectly.
Where does the food come from? I was born outside of Boston. I left Massachusetts for Florida when I was 12 or 13. My dad was very Northern, very meat and potatoes. My mother was very Southern. She grew up in Savannah. I guess a lot of my food starts there. Dinner was either liver and onions or chicken and dumplings. It was a very good contrast. I grew up in Florida and spent a few years working in the Florida Keys. That turned me onto a lot of Caribbean stuff there. Then I moved in the early '90s to East Bay, California. I worked under some really talented people in the San Francisco area and Concord, but Cali chewed me up. I had a bunch of friends come out from Florida and we hopped on the Dead Tour and they were bound and determined to haul me back to the East Coast until we stopped in Boulder and I got a look. I was like, "Just drop me off here." And they did. I parked it there. That was '94. I stayed for 17 years.
I always wanted to do a sandwich place. When we got this place, I looked at Johns Island as a whole. I see Johns Island as being a lot of angles — you've got Kiawah and tourism. But you've also got the farming community and blue collar community, there are all kinds of walks of life. I wanted to do something for all of those people. I could have done anything. I could have done eight sandwiches and said that's what you get, but I didn't think that would be fair to myself or to the community. You look at our menu, there are a lot of options. There's still a craft side and a general side. I wanted something people recognize. The first year or two, the way the menu was designed, there would be a line drawn. So you could have the traditional version and then right across the craft alternative. Over time, when one wouldn't sell, it was pigeonholing. You'd have to come up with the sandwich to replace it and it would have to fit those parameters. But that's the reason between the two-sided menu.
Right now my favorite sandwich on our menu is our Vegetarian Potato Latke. For health reasons I stopped eating meat — I've lost 60 pounds. But if I was eating meat, the classic Italian sandwich with salami and pepperoni, and ham, is my No. 1 favorite. That's what I think of when I think of a traditional sandwich.