By BRENDA SHOFFNER / Daily News
MARY ESTHER — It’s not often that a brand-name restaurant gives an area a second chance. When Schlotzsky’s opened its Lotz Better location in the middle of last year, that’s what it did. It had tried a Mary Esther site years earlier. This time a different formula might be the key to success.
Schlotzsky’s is known for The Original: lean smoked ham, Genoa and cotto salamis, melted cheddar, mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses layered with black olives, red onion, lettuce, tomato, mustard and signature dressing on a toasted sourdough bun.
Other sandwiches include smoked turkey breast, turkey bacon club, Angus roast beef and cheese, and fiesta chicken.
There are also fresh veggie (cheddar cheese, cucumber slices, red onion, tomato, lettuce and black olives), ham and cheese, pastrami reuben and chipotle chicken.
Sandwiches are available in small, medium and large sizes. Any can be turned into a meal by adding chips and a drink. Abandoning the trademark round bun for a wrap is an option, too. Schlotzsky’s also offers pizza, salads and soups. Pizzas come in 8-inch and 14-inch sizes. They include pepperoni and double cheese, fresh veggie, grilled chicken and pesto, smoked turkey and jalapeno and a combination. Salad choices are cranberry, apple, pecan and chicken; hearts of Romaine chicken caesar; turkey avocado cobb; turkey chef; and garden.
My guest chose a large turkey bacon club and a bowl of Timberline chili for his meal. The sandwich was as big as the plate it was served on, and was deemed delicious. The chili, served steaming hot in a nice-sized bowl, was also good. It came with crackers.
I chose to go with Schlotzsky’s “Pick Two” option. You get to select any two of half a medium sandwich, bowl of soup, half an 8-inch pizza or half a salad. It was difficult, but I finally decided on half of a smoked turkey-guacamole sandwich and half of a pepperoni/double cheese pizza.
The sandwich was part of a “Winterific” menu. It tasted fine but was a little disappointing compared to my guest’s sandwich. The pizza was delicious with light crust and flavorful sauce and toppings. Schlotzsky’s offers Coca-Cola products at a serve-yourself dispenser. A separate iced tea machine dispenses Southern, unsweet and raspberry versions of Fuze tea.
A press release explained that part of the Lotz Better restaurant model is co-branding deals. In this case, that’s with Cinnabon and Carvel Ice Cream. My guest and I each chose a different Cinnabon for dessert. I had the carmel pecan version, and my guest had the classic. Both were good although they could have stood being heated a little more. Other choices include the Minibon, Center of the Roll and a variety of packs. There are also desserts on the Schlotzsky’s menu including cookies, cheesecake, brownie and two kinds of cake. On a chilly winter day, no one was eating ice cream. Schlotzsky’s also does catering with items ranging from trays to box lunches.
The clean, bright dining area is larger than I expected. It included free-standing tables and chairs as well as banquette seating along one wall. There were also a few tables outside. A large-screen television hangs on one wall. I think it was set on a news channel, but what distracted my attention was that the screen also contained standing ads for Schlotzsky’s. A short hallway connects Schlotzsky’s to the convenience store next door. The hallway is also where the restrooms are located.
Orders are placed at the counter, where you receive a number. A server delivers food to your table when it’s ready. The young man taking orders on the afternoon of our visit was pleasant and patient explaining the Pick Two menu, delivering our food and clearing away used dishes. He also seemed to know several of the other diners who came in while we were there. Some stayed to eat in while a few ordered their food to go.
A final taste
In its second Mary Esther incarnation, Schlotzsky’s seems to be attracting new business as well as repeat customers.
Source: NWF Daily News
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