An engineering accountant of 29 years and the general sales manager for Auto Trade have found refuge in becoming the new owners of The Maggie Valley Sandwich Shop.
Tammy Tabor and Jim Drews are celebrating their first full year of ownership with a frequently updated menu, classic southern hospitality and fresh ingredients that they shop for daily before opening.
“We decided it was time for a change,” said Tabor. “It was time to work hard for ourselves and not for someone else.”
The establishment is adorably quaint on the inside, fireplace and all. A chalk board on the wall has a child’s Christmas drawing and there are classic metal signs that one would find at an old soda fountain or diner.
Taking a seat inside by the window, the atmosphere was beginning to feel as if I was in a good friend’s living room, a really clean friend, half expecting a familiar face to come around the corner.
Scanning over the menu, I came across a Cuban sandwich. For all of my Florida transplants and other lovers of Cuban food, I know you can relate to the pure joy that came over me when this caught my eye.
Sipping on sweet tea and waiting for the moment of truth, my excitement grew awaiting what could possibly take care of a consistent crave without a cure I struggle with up here in Appalachia.
Being a Floridian, a Cuban sandwich is a staple. For some reason, Cuban bread is rarely, if ever, found in this region.
For all of you that share my pain, the hunt is over.
Maggie Valley Sandwich Shop makes a perfectly simple, buttery, melty porking fantastic, as it should be, Cuban sandwich.
I could not be happier with the crispy toasted bread, melty swiss cheese, basic mustard, pickles, mojo pulled pork and a thick slice of deli ham.
“All of our pulled pork is slow roasted with our house-made mojo,” said Drews. “All of our sandwiches are pressed, which takes it to another level. We shop for our own produce every day. Its fresh, and customizable to whatever the customer wants. No iceberg lettuce here.”
Tabor and Drews left the West Coast of Florida to come to Maggie Valley, where they owned a cabin for about eight years prior. Looking around for a new business opportunity in cabin rentals or a bed and breakfast, they unexpectedly fell into their current ownership of Maggie Valley Sandwich Shop.
“I was up here last September vacationing, when my friends ended up having to evacuate from hurricane Irma to our cabin,” said Tabor. “We happened to lose power, so we went down to the sandwich shop to grab a bite. I was just talking to the previous owner about looking for a new business opportunity when he said ‘I would sell this place if you want.’ It all just fell into place after that.”
While Drews has always wanted to own his own restaurant, previously working in Bennigans Steak and Ale House as well as TGIFridays, Tabor is new to the restaurant business, but has enjoyed every second of their new venture together.
“This isn’t work for us,” they both added. “This is fun. We love the people we serve and making them happy with fresh, great food.”
Their passion shines with every customer that comes through the door. While Tabor and Drews are the owners, as well as the chef’s, hosts, wait staff and bussers, they make a point to interact with every customer who comes into the restaurant.
A sign on the counter reads “Gather,” which matches the vibe Tabor and Drews set the moment you walk through the door.
Tabor and Drews mentioned that they have a strong presence of local regulars.
“An older man named Larry comes in almost every day,” said Drews. “He orders either a meatball sub or flatbread, or the roast beef sandwich. He recently got surgery on his wrist, so we help him with his change and assist him to a table.”
The extensive menu has something for anyone, ranging from a simple tuna salad sandwich or the Maggie Cristo, loaded with ham, turkey, salami and cheese between French toast and served with a raspberry jam dipping sauce.
“My niece is very picky, but always asks for the turkey chili recipe I make. She absolutely loves it,” said Tabor.
Tabor’s niece is not wrong. Being an anti-ground turkey person myself, I am changed after eating Tabor’s turkey chili. The chili was loaded with ground turkey, chili beans and corn, which added a sweetness to the hearty spiciness. If the word ‘turkey’ wasn’t mentioned on the menu, I would never know it wasn’t ground beef.
Tabor and Drews hope to expand in the future, starting with catering opportunities for those that inquire.
For the time being, the two are content with their new lifestyle in Maggie Valley, serving up sandwiches, smiles and wholesome conversation to the customers that flow in and out of the shop.