Richmond’s newest sandwich shop is having a tough time keeping a low profile.
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Walnut booths by Richmond carpenter Tom Brickman.
Photos by Michael Simon
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Owners Tashia and David Bailey.
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Bar taps are made from a 100-year-old maple that fell on the Baileys' first property.
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Secret Sandwich Society has beer and kombucha on tap, and growlers to go.
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At Grace and Fifth Streets in Richmond.
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Styled after a Prohibition-era speakeasy, Richmond’s Secret Sandwich Society has quickly become a well-known favorite of the capitol city's sandwich seekers.
Owners David and Tashia Bailey opened the shop, which is located at 501 E. Grace Street near the Carpenter Theatre, last November. This is the Bailey's second location; the first, a roaring success, opened in 2010 in the basement of a Fayetteville, West Virginia house.
With seating for 108 patrons, the Grace Street location is spacious and airy with picture windows, slate blue walls, exposed brick and walnut booths custom built by local carpenter Tom Brickman (whose work you’ll also find at Comfort and Kuba Kuba). A retro mural advertising 25-cent lunches and 30-cent dinners is displayed on the wall, a lucky find that was uncovered and restored during the renovation of the space. Tap handles at the bar were made from a 100-year-old silver maple tree that fell outside of the Fayetteville location. As the tree was being removed from the property, says David, the Baileys, who have a strong commitment to sustainability, thought, “Why would we let this go to waste?” and commissioned the transformation of the wood for interior use.
David says Secret Sandwich Society’s mission is to create “bold combinations of sweet, savory, pickled, crunchy, salty and spicy [mingled] on perfectly toasted bread.” They hit their mark with homemade condiments and toppings, including rosemary mayo, oven-dried tomatoes, pimento cheese, horseradish, peach jam, blue cheese spread, balsamic onions, house-cured pickles (which are sold by the pint to avid fans), French onion dip, green goddess dressing, honey butter and herbed crèma and more. The McKinley, one of their most popular sandwiches, features homemade spiced meatloaf, chipotle-bacon jam, Thousand Island dressing and crispy onions.
In addition to creative and inspired sandwiches, burgers and salads, Secret Sandwich Society’s bar offers a wide range of beer and cocktails. With the opening of the new location, the Baileys took their cue from Richmond’s emerging craft beer and cocktail scene and upped their game, requiring all servers and bartenders to become certified Cicerones, or beer experts. With 15 beers on tap, and more than 50 additional brews in bottles and cans, the Society list features seasonal rotations from breweries such as Devils Backbone, Hardywood, South Street and Strangeways.
The Baileys are also forging philanthropic partnerships with local organizations like FeedMore, with whom they hope to sponsor events. So far, it seems the Baileys have hit on a winning recipe, so we're betting the secret won't be safe for long. Open daily from 11:00 a.m. – 10:00 p.m. SecretSandwichSociety.com