By Ama Ntow – Collegiate Staff
Two Beards Deli is located in the heart of downtown Grand Rapids. The deli, which opened in November of 2012, is located at 38 Commerce Avenue SW, and is the third of its kind by owner Scott Schultz.
Rei Robinson, the general manager, met Schultz nine years ago while living above him as a tenant. He began working at Cherry Street Deli, Schultz’s first business.When it came time to open a new branch, Schultz approached Robinson and asked him to take on the role of general manager.
Two Beards stands out from other delis of its kind not only because of its large and varied menu, which includes a larger selection of vegetarian and vegan sandwiches, but also because all the menu items are named after beard styles or famous people with beards. One such sandwich is the Two Tone, named after an Irish-Mexican acquaintance of Schultz who had a beard that naturally grew black on one side and red on the other. The name fits because of the black bean and falafel cakes that come on the sandwich.
The original concept for the deli was similar to that of the other restaurants with menu items being named after streets.While meeting with lawyers Schultz and a business partner, who both had beards at the time, were referred to by lawyers as “the beards.” Schultz liked the nickname and decided to build on that concept and decided to use it for his new deli. Schultz, who has 25 years of experience as a chef, built the menu himself. He wanted a menu that satisfies all kinds of diets.
The deli caters to a wide variety of customers with many coming from the surrounding neighborhood. Lunch is an especially busy time with many community members coming by for a quick lunch.
“We try to look for people who are adaptable and energetic,” Robinson said on the values he looks for in potential staff members. “We have a small staff here but they’re all really good people. We’re all friends. I consider myself the luckiest store manager downtown because we don’t have anyone here who is just looking to get a paycheck. Everyone here cares about this place, they’re really invested in it. They’re invested in the people that come in, they’re invested in each other.”
The deli is not only a place for good food but a place for art as well. With artists and art lovers on staff, Two Beards takes an artistic approach to business. Since opening, they have hosted artists every ArtPrize. Their current focus, artistically, is to have a small exhibit against one of their walls for local artists to display their works.
The full menu can be found at twobeardsgr.com.