coming soon to a belly near you: the best damn sandwich.


In part, you can thank John Montagu, 4th Earl of Sandwich, for bringing this bread-enclosed delicacy to your life. His gambling addiction necessitated a way for him to eat one-handed so he would not have to pause his game to fool with separate dishes or even silverware. Consequently, some brilliant cook, to appease a hangry Earl, created a solution we call the sandwich. And now, you can thank Logan Strawderman, Lauren Penrod, and Mollie Randa for bringing that creation to your downtown! Lola Mo’s Delicatessen is opening SATURDAY!


Brandy and I were invited to the private opening/dress rehearsal this past Saturday to get a much-anticipated preview of the space and the menu. Located on Newman Avenue right behind the new Yellow Button, the deli is airy and bright, reminiscent of a generations-old New York deli, what with its shiny subway tile, black and white decor, old fashioned curved display cases, and super-loud cashier yelling your ticket number (that would be Lauren). Upon arrival, I noticed the selection of crackers, pretzels, and assorted snacks and treats lining the shelves to the left. Another set of shelves holds specialty items like maple syrup, honey (lavender, and orange blossom!), pickles, olives, mustard, capers, vinegar, and these cool fruit spreads designed for pairings with cheese. Several shelves of wine reach from floor to ceiling, next to a fridge full of special-occasion sodas, like Boylan’s Ginger Ale and Le Village Sparkling Blood Orange Juice. Boar’s Head meats and cheeses (for sandwiches or bulk purchases) sit neatly in the glass cooler. The deli also features house-made pastrami (with a 7-day brine, people!), smoked tofu, and assorted rubs created by Logan Strawderman. You can get yourself a fantastic sandwich AND get the makings for a rather classy picnic, too!


When you order, you can choose from several breads like rye, sourdough, white, or wheat. Side dishes include two kinds of potato salad (Texas or NY), coleslaw, red slaw, and Dirty brand chips. We ordered the Rotisserie Chicken Sandwich, the Cool Kids Club, the Smofu smoked tofu sandwich, and the Pam Stoke, a Buffalo chicken sandwich with slices of bleu cheese.


While waiting for our perfectly crafted sandwiches, we mingled with all the folks who had come out to share in the excitement, including Lauren’s mom, who told me a few things… For example, ahem, when Lauren was a child, she was obsessed with cashiers. Definitely wanted to grow up and do THAT. She also created a detective agency. She demanded that her family members lose something so that she could use her keen problem-solving skills to crack the case. And, she peddled crafts door to door in their neighborhood, little things she had made herself… selling them for less than her mom had spent on the supplies. Thirty years later, Lauren owns Midtowne Market, Midtowne Bottle Shop, and co-owns Lola Mo’s. Go figure. Anyway, it was a joyful day and an even more joyful sandwich experience. The meat was savory, the lettuce fresh, the bread thick and soft with not a trace of sog… it was the best damn sandwich. I’ll admit, my son is not a big sandwich fan. But he ate the whole thing. THE WHOLE THING.


Did I mention dessert? Co-owner Mollie Randa, a baking PHENOM,  bakes all the scrumptious desserts tempting you from the display case. Pies, scones, cheesecake, tarts, a thing called chocolate salami, and of course, the black & white cookie.


Now, you still have to wait a few more days. I’m picturing you, skulking around outside the deli, drool bubbling at the corners of your mouths, like a wild pack of generation X’ers camping out for tickets to a Menudo reunion show. Breathe. You will be okay. The doors will open Saturday, and so will your mouth, and so will your world.

Copyright © 2012-18 · All Rights Reserved · Words by Katie Mitchell. Photos by Brandy Somers. This material may not be copied, downloaded, reproduced, or printed without express written consent. Thank you for respecting our intellectual property.

show of hands: court square theater.

Court Square Theater nightI was expecting a different lesson, one about working hard to overcome obstacles and achieve a lifelong dream. After all, Little Bread HenBarefoot Puppet Theater‘s rendition of the old, similarly named story – follows a little red hen’s endeavor to make bread from scratch. Planting and tending the field, cutting down the wheat, doing whatever-is-typically-done to make flour… seems a bit ambitious for a chicken, if you ask me. So I was expecting a lesson about struggle and reward.

But Heidi and Sam Rugg, who operate this outfit, had something else in mind. In a spoiler-free nutshell, Herr Brotmeister and his daughter Maguerite own a bakery in an undisclosed European nation. They have a few hens running around – you know, for eggs – and Marguerite gets particularly attached to one of them, Millie, named for her deceased mother. Business is good.

barefoot puppet 4Then the villains show up: a fox and an older lady who’s got a thing for the widower Brotmeister. Another woman comes in and orders sixty strawberry custard pies for the Strawberry Festival in Paris. A tall order for this tiny operation run by two people and a herd of chickens.

At this point I think, “Wait. Maybe this is about Herr Brotmeister finding new love after the death of his wife! Then again, maybe it IS about overcoming obstacles, what with the pies and all.”

barefoot puppet 2This is what happens when an English teacher attends a puppet show. She tries to pin down the THEME. So I stopped taking notes and decided to just enjoy the show like a kid would. Wasn’t hard.

Herr Brotmeister is so distracted by all these women that he forgets to tell Marguerite about the fox… and Marguerite leaves the gate open… and then gossip spreads through the farm animals like mad cow disease about a dog named Fred and his possible murder… which, of course, causes all the animals to be unwilling to help evil, old Millie make bread, which results in a bread shortage. Ah, consequences. It’s all cause and effect, people.

And so the lesson is a bit less hopeful than my original prediction: If no one helps, everyone gets NOTHING.

barefoot puppet 1The husband and wife proprietors of Barefoot Puppet Theater, Heidi and Sam Rugg, take lots of folktales and add twists and quirks. They also make all their puppets and sets, man all the puppets, each with a different voice, and use props for interactive improv with the audience. It’s really very clever and fun to watch, their antics resulting in squeals and giggles from everyone in the audience, blurring the line between kiddo and grownup. After the performance they were happy to answer everyone’s adorable questions.

barefoot puppetbw 9They’ve been known to perform in major cities up and down the East Coast including Long Island, DC, and Atlanta, and isn’t it nice that we live in a community where awesome entertainment for all ages is just a quick stroll downtown? A quick note to parents: A membership at Court Square Theater is about as vital to your family as your library card and your Kohl’s cash. Court Square Theater members get twenty percent off tickets and FREE popcorn, for the equivalent of about seven bucks a month. Plus you’re helping support the arts in your community. And you can purchase and drink beer and wine in there!! (And of course the usual sodas and other beverages, which I’m admittedly not as excited about.) Now THAT’S family friendly!

Tonight through Sunday you can catch a performance of Valley Playhouse’s Kiss the Moon, Kiss the Sun. In coming weeks, you’ll find a variety of entertainment, including a dance performance, a craft beer film (yow!!), and concerts like Danny Knicely and Ellis Paul. Time to get that membership!

barefoot puppetbw 3Copyright © 2012-14 · All Rights Reserved · Written content by Katie Mitchell. Photos by Brandy Somers. This material may not be copied, downloaded, reproduced, or printed without express written consent. Thank you for respecting our intellectual property.