Ever since moving to Southwestern Pennsylvania in 1998, Sabina Walters has been wanting to open a sandwich shop.
She’d been used to finding a place in her native Connecticut where she could sit down and enjoy a cup of coffee with a bagel or more, but it was something hard to come by in her adopted neighborhood.
All that changed when she found a building in Brownsville’s Snowden Square, empty since 2012, that once housed a coffee shop. Wanting to put her idea in motion, she leased the space and her husband, Mike, began adding cabinets, kitchen equipment, track and recessed lighting and new tables and chairs to the already attractive interior space starting the first week of January.
Fans of Chip and Joanna Gaines’ TV show “Fixer Upper,” the Walters embellished the faux metal ceiling, original tile floor, antique white walls with oak trim stained dark walnut with personal touches like old family photos of ancestors from Poland, a Beatles display and a huge blackboard on the wall by the deli cases that lists the menu items.
Walters planned to open her Sandwich Shop and Deli the first week of April but decided to hold off a couple weeks to assess the impact of the coronavirus. To get the word out to patrons, she posted her new opening date, April 15, on Facebook along with a copy of her menu.
During the four hours she was open on day one, 77 customers visited the sandwich shop limited to takeout only, “It was non stop from 10 in the morning till 2 in the afternoon,” Walters said. “Business has been steady ever since, and I can’t wait to see what the volume might be like when we open for sit and dine in service.”
Currently, patrons can order sandwiches made with a variety of Eckrich Farms meats and Isaly’s chipped ham and a selection of basic cheeses. The meats and cheeses are also available by the pound for take out along with soups, cole slaw, and pasta, couscous, egg, tuna, ham and macaroni salads – all made in house.
One culinary star of the operation are authentic bagels brought in from New York, frozen and partially baked. Buttery croissants are another sandwich option that go well with Door County Coffee from Wisconsin. At the moment, Walters’ bread supplier is closed due to the coronavirus but bagels and croissants are worthy sandwich alternatives.
Walters said her fondness for quality bagels dates back to her younger years living in Connecticut where she’d get up at 4 in the morning and head off to a job making bagels.
Throughout the day, customers will hear Fab Four music piped into the shop on the radio as the Beatles are her favorite band. Walters once won a contest that flew her to Los Angeles first class, put her up in the Hollywood W Hotel and gave her a chance to sit in on a Paul McCartney recording session at Capitol Records. “Sir Paul even autographed my back after the recording session was over,” she said. “I later had it tattooed at Kat Von D.”
In the summer, when bands play the Snowden Square stage, she’s thinking of putting tables and chairs outdoors and hopes to extend hours of operation during special events such as Light Up Night in December. She may also decide to allude to her Polish heritage by adding sour kraut and kielbasa soup, even a creamy dill pickle soup with potatoes, to her menu.
At the moment, the Sandwich Shop and Deli, located at 121 Brownsville Avenue in Brownsville, is open from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday. Once the coronavirus pandemic is over, Walters plans to be open from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Tuesday - Friday, and from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m on Saturday. For more information, phone 724-785-4089.