For more than a year, John Sweet has wanted to expand Niedlov's Breadworks, but it wasn't in the cards until just recently.
"I thought about a satellite location, with the baking still done here," he said while sitting in the cafe of his bakery. "I looked at seven or eight opportunities. ... The old Shapiro's Deli [in St. Elmo] was ideal in a lot of ways."
When Shapiro's in St. Elmo closed after Thanksgiving last year, Sweet began looking at the location and decided the full kitchen would give him an opportunity to transfer the soup making to that facility and enhance the offerings already available at the Main Street location.
He quietly opened the deli, nestled between Collective Clothing and Shagedelic on St. Elmo Avenue, about a month ago and began offering the same sandwiches available at Niedlov's Breadworks.
* Where: 3931 St. Elmo Ave.
* Hours of operation: Monday through Friday 10:30 a.m. - 2:30 p.m.; Closed on Saturday and Sunday
* What to expect: You can get the same sandwiches available at Niedlov's Breadworks, including roast beef, club, chicken salad and reuben, as well as cinnamon rolls. The menu will continue to expand as time goes on.
Niedlov's Deli manager Nick Vallot said soon that will change.
He's been scouring cookbooks, websites and anything else he can get his hands on to search for new and interesting recipes that can be added to the small menu at the deli.
"I want to just squeeze the deli feel out of it," he said. "We're combining old country with Southern deli, which isn't the easiest thing to do."
Since the opening, Vallot said, the question he's most often asked is why no coffee is served. It's a work in progress, he said, adding that coffee is coming soon and eventually the deli will be open for breakfast.
He said he'd also like to add hot dogs and wraps to the menu offerings, and as tourism season gets closer the deli will begin opening on weekends to catch some of the tourism traffic from the Incline Railway, Rock City and Ruby Falls.
"We're just beginning, but soon that case will be filled with fresh meats and fresh cheeses and all the other toppings you'd want on a sandwich," Vallot said, gesturing toward the glass case at the front of the small restaurant.
Redecorated with bright green and burnt red colors on the walls, Sweet said former Shapiro's customers will be greeted with a look and feel that is noticeably more Niedlov's. Eventually there will be large photos of the bread-making process across the walls.
"It's going to take a few months to get set up," he said, adding the official grand opening will be held March 1 but he's not sure yet what kind of celebration will be held for it.
The deli adds to a cluster of locally owned restaurants in St. Elmo that feature opportunities for barbecue, burritos, pizza and ice cream, Thai and American food. Vallot said he couldn't be happier with customer response so far, and is confident business will only continue to grow.
"All around -- left, right and center -- everyone loves it," he said.
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