"Build Back Better", "Keep America Great", "Make Trump Furious", "The Original Outsider", and "Fighting for a Better Georgia" are some of the slogans invading televisions, phones, and mailboxes as of late. No matter your political alignment, there is one thing that will always connect us all − breaking bread.
“Good Food on the Fly” is the mantra of Thunderbolt’s newest hotspot: Finches Sandwiches and Sundries. It is a slogan anybody can get behind. Because the brand-new restaurant has voted in favor of speedy specialty sandwiches, they have managed to sway locals’ hearts.
Since opening their doors two weeks ago, Chatham County’s most popular new sandwich spot has regularly sold out of stock by midday. Get there early to avoid the standard lunch-hour line around the block.
Partners Rebecca Matthews, Miles Matthews, and Jamie Pleta took a swan dive into opening Thunderbolt’s first sandwich-forward eatery despite a wavering restaurant industry. Making lemonade from a layoff, the trio found themselves in search of a way to make it through the other end of the pandemic, like so many others.
The Matthews had been eyeing the vacant building next to the well-known old Thunderbolt gas station that now operates as a rentable bed-and-breakfast. The twosome biked by the space when they moved into the neighborhood, and the opportunity to rent it was seized once the duo found more time on their hands.
Since Rebecca previously worked with Pleta, persuading her to join came next (a logical step with Pleta’s experience in managing both front- and back-of-house in restaurants). The food is Miles’ specialty, and the sundries are Rebecca’s, with her background in antiques and merchandising.
It tooks months of planning to make their dream a reality. Rebecca told me their story: “The sandwich shop idea came from mine and Miles’ experience working in food trucks. We are used to limited space. We are used to takeaway, and we are used to putting out really good food without the formal atmosphere.”
The selection rotates constantly without wavering in quality. Repeat customers will see changes in seasons and availability of products reflected with each menu. The best place to find the daily menu is on the Finches Instagram page (@finches.sandwhiches) or to stop by and see it in person.
“We are a lighthearted place. We are trying to have fun here, so the food is going to reflect that. Trying to do fun food but take it seriously. My background is somewhat fine dining, so we are trying to take grilled cheese and do the best grilled cheese you can do,” explained Chef Miles.
The doors open early to ensure patrons can grab a meal or coffee before heading to the office. I also think it is to allow early birds to beat the normal rush hour and lunch crowds that circle the quaint building. For those who need a little extra shut-eye, breakfast is served all day.
The Millennials Toast became an instant hit and is one of the most popular menu items. No matter the hour, this take on avocado toast is a day-maker. Tender bread from Auspicious Bakery serves as the base and is layered with earthy smashed avocado, a whipped cream-cheese spread, everything-spiced nuts, and greens.
For a more traditional (and less Millennial) breakfast, go for The Works. It is a sandwich that is worth the resulting sticky fingers. Soft sweet Hawaiian-bread toast holds together fluffy eggs, hearty pork breakfast sausage, and fresh green onion, with melted cheese, Sriracha mayonnaise, and smoked tomato ketchup that marry together to make a gooey morning melody.
Without hesitation I went for the Egg Salad Sandwich, with crisp extra-salty chips on the side. Traditional southern egg salad is peppered with diced pickles. For Finches’ upscale version, Chef Miles layers bright thinly sliced pickles in between the bread and egg salad. This allows for the pickle to sing instead of being lost in a sea of salad.
The Skinny Italian With An Attitude is anything but skinny. Expect a hearty succulent sandwich layered on buttery focaccia with glistening full-bodied porchetta-style pork belly, creamy aioli, and peppery greens to cut through the fat. The part that takes this sandwich over the edge is the steaming smoky broth served on the side. You will want to drink it after you take the last dip of your sandwich. As for Chef Miles’ creative process: “Try a porchetta sandwich that is reflective of the famous porchetta sandwich in San Francisco.”
Current side-item options range from chips with homemade dip to vegan soup to a creamy potato salad that is anything but heavy. The shop side of Finches features varied baked goods from Auspicious and other handcrafted sweets from a selection of makers.
Almost every day you can find $5 glasses of champagne. Tuesdays are for $2 Tecates, and Thursdays you can buy the chef a beer or get a PBR & a pickle for $5. Any day of the week you can stop in for a quick refreshment such as canned wine, hard cider, beer, and even full bottles of wine to grab if you need a last-minute hostess gift.
While waiting for the grub, do not forget to browse the side of sundries. Rebecca takes the time to hand-pick everything available for sale in the store. Cheeky items such as witticism-emblazoned hand towels sit next to handmade gifts that locals will love. Rebecca’s purveying process is geared toward boutique items that are not available in just any small shop around town.
This month marks the beginning for Finches and the continued cultivation of Thunderbolt’s culinary scene. According to Rebecca, “The best thing so far is that our customers keep coming back for more.” I myself have already planned my next quick casual meal at Finches.