The Takeaway’s premise is simple: grab a really good sandwich …and go. Step inside, though, and you’ll probably be tempted to stay as long as possible. The cheerful white subway-tiled interior is full of blonde wood surfaces — including long, thin countertops, which line the huge picture windows looking out onto Main Street — complemented by a gleaming silver deli case.
“It is a place for everybody,” says owner-operator Dustin Miller. “You can have a CEO and the next person in line is somebody coming in to buy a pound of ham, and that’s a beautiful thing about delis —it’s a leveling thing.”
Delis are something of a family venture for Miller; his brother Ryan runs Deli Ohio in Canton, and Miller says his brother was definitely an inspiration for starting his own. Couple that with hearing from customers at Collective Espresso, his popular local coffee shop, the desire for a grab-and-go sandwich shop, and the impetus for the Takeaway was born. After more than a year spent securing the location at the corner of Woodward and Main streets, the Takeaway opened about a month ago. Of course, the neighborhood food situation has changed even in that short amount of time.
“Now, you stub your toe on a new restaurant on Main Street,” Miller says.
The Royal OTR, Allez Bakery and The Pony are all recent additions to the streetscape, among the already existing myriad pizza joints and neighborhood bars. Despite the limited real estate, there’s not as much of a sense of competition among business owners on Main Street as one might expect.
“You walk down the street and we’re all friends because we’re all trying to figure out this life thing together,” Miller says. “Not just life but this business thing.”
Business at the Takeaway is split between the deli — with sandwiches and cut-to-order meats and cheeses — and a tidy retail grocery. Shelves lining the wall and stands in the store hold bunches of bananas, avocados and lemons, bags of chips, crackers and jam. There’s a smattering of yogurt, eggs, milk and butter, ice cream and frozen fruits. Wire baskets stand at the ready to fill with your essentials, and cold cases are stocked with an eclectic array of beer, wines and other beverages.
“You’re probably not gonna Whole Foods it up and spend $200 at my store,” Miller says. “It’s (about) partnering with other people that are small businesses that do good stuff, too.”
The deli offers an assortment of sandwiches, sides, daily soups, salads and a kids menu — a rarity in to-go shops. Among other sandwich options, you can chow down on the Reuben, featuring house corned beef layered on rye bread from Allez; the northeast-Ohio staple, Trail & Swiss, featuring Troyer’s Genuine Trail bologna; or one of three variants of The Salad Sandwich, with egg, chicken or tuna salad. Vegetarian-friendly options include the Caprese with housemade basil pesto on Allez sourdough or one of three salads — the Caesar, kale apple and house. I stopped in on three separate occasions to get a taste of the proverbial action.
On the first visit, a BLT felt like a safe choice. It proved to be that and more. The bacon was the thickest cut I’ve had on a sandwich in a long time (the slicer is set to 26), the aioli was creamy, but not overpowering, and the wheat bread sufficiently held it all together. (I also added a slice of cheddar.)
“You don’t need artisanal bread for a BLT. You don’t want artisanal bread for a BLT,” Miller says emphatically. “You want sandwich bread and Giminetti’s makes great sandwich bread and Allez makes great sourdough and rye.”
He’s not wrong. But I did try the tuna salad on a Mainwood Pastry croissant on a subsequent visit, and it only served to further my belief that any “salad” sandwich should exclusively be served on flaky bread. The croissant lasted to the very last triumphant bite — no soggy bottom slice here — and the housemade mayonnaise sets the trio of salads apart from others of a similar ilk.
“We wanted simple food items, affordable food items you can eat every day and enjoy,” says Jared Stephens, the store manager. “We wanted a sandwich that wasn’t too filling but not not worth the dollar.”
Stephens worked with Miller to create and develop the sandwich menu, which abides by their simple credo: “What tastes good, and how do we execute it?” Having a team that’s fully on board with the vision is an essential ingredient.
“(My team) really gets it at a deeper level,” Miller says. “They know we’re not just running a restaurant. They know how important it is that this kind of thing exists here, specifically.”
Building into the existing fabric of Main Street is an imperative of the Takeaway team.
“I think the community really loves us to be around. We really invite everyone in,” Stephens says. “We have a bunch of customers that live and work just around the corner and I think that’s our main customer base.”
In addition to the fixed sandwich menu, customers can try their hand at building their own. Meat options include ham, turkey, German bologna or turkey pastrami; cheese includes Swiss, cheddar, provolone, muenster or American; and bread options are white, wheat, sourdough or rye; with a choice of veggies and sauce.
“We have a guy who’s a barber down the street named Tony,” Stephens says. “He gets a bologna sandwich every day, so he gets (what we call) the Tony Bologna.”
I haven’t tried the bologna yet, but I did try the Sundried Turkey Bacon on my last visit, and the slices upon slices of juicy turkey piled atop sourdough smeared with house sundried-tomato tapenade was *insert Italian chef’s kiss* delicious.
Future potential plans for the Takeaway include breakfast and late-night options, but Stephens says it will take some time to build to that. In the meantime, the Takeaway is open daily.
Go: 1324 Main St., Over-the-Rhine; Call: 513-873-1157; Internet: facebook.com/takeawayonmain; Hours: 10 a.m.-8 p.m. Monday-Saturday; 11 a.m.-7 p.m. Sunday.