By Becky Spaulding
While driving on the southeast side of Grand Rapids, you may notice the plethora of small restaurants that have been popping up in the past few years. Many of them, including The Cherry Deli, are so small that you might drive by without even noticing them.
In a once- dwindling neighborhood that has been revived by small local establishments, The Cherry Deli serves up food made with fresh, local ingredients in a welcoming environment.
As customers sit in the small, sun-lit dining room, which consists of only about five square, white tables and a soda station, they are served deli sandwiches and salads that are made to order, and are all named for Grand Rapids area streets, parks, and monuments.
The small deli opened in 2005, when area chef Scott Schulz, also a GRCC culinary student in the ‘90s, decided he wanted to own his own restaurant.
The deli has 55 sandwiches to choose from, including 15 that are vegetarian and four that contain 98 percent fat-free meats ($5.25 – $9.25). They also sell ten different types of salads ($5.75 – $9.00) and have six soups of the day ($2.95 – $4.25).
I stopped in to the deli on a slow Tuesday afternoon, and was blown away by their huge chalkboard menu. Set up for easy ordering, they label each section with what type of sandwiches you’ll find below – ham, turkey, corned beef and pastrami, chicken, beef, and vegetarian. Each sandwich has a number, from one – fifty-five, and is named after a Grand Rapids street.
After a few minutes of deliberation, I decided to try a half-sized #33 – The Lockwood ($5.50). A vegetarian sandwich, The Lockwood consists of a grilled Feta spread, yellow squash, zucchini, red peppers, and caramelized onions, all on Panini bread that is grilled.
Sandwiches come with only a pickle slice, but for me this was enough. A half-size at The Cherry Deli is about the size of any sandwich I’d make myself normally, with the whole sizes being almost too much.
The Lockwood was very rich, and a little greasy for my taste due to the caramelized onions, but had a great flavor. The Feta spread added just the right amount of saltiness to the vegetables, which were abundant and almost falling off of the bread.
The rich, filling sandwiches at The Cherry Deli do seem slightly overpriced to me, but you do get what you pay for: fresh, local ingredients, sandwiches and salads prepared while you wait, and a bright, inviting atmosphere to enjoy.
Cherry Deli is also an environmentally friendly establishment. According to their website, they recycle all cardboard, glass, and metal, and have reduced their waste output by 40 percent.
If you haven’t tried the soup, sandwiches, or salads at The Cherry Deli yet, you can visit it Monday through Friday from 10:30a.m. – 7:30p.m., Saturday from 11:00a.m. – 8:00p.m., or Sunday from 11:00a.m. – 4:00p.m.