With a reuben made with tongue and cardamon, and roasted squash that tastes like pulled pork, John Ginnetti plans to do for sandwiches what his Ninth Square bar does for cocktails.
Ginnetti (pictured), who’s 35, owns 116 Crown, the eponymous bar on Crown Street, known for its carefully composed cocktails. He now owns a business right next door, Meat & Co., a sandwich shop he’s planning to open Friday evening.
“I for a long time have seen a similarity between sandwiches and cocktails,” he said. Anyone can make a sandwich at home, just like anyone can make a gin and tonic at home. When people go out to get a drink—or a sandwich—they want something special. They want a “proprietary offering” that they can’t or wouldn’t make for themselves, Ginnetti said.
As a “mixologist,” Ginnetti approaches cocktails as an art form, selecting premium ingredients and arranging them in delicate proportions, serving them just so, perhaps in an elegant glass with a surprising garnish. A sample 116 Crown cocktail: “NLT (King Pan Remix): grande absente, lime juice, st. germain elderflower liqueur—served over solid hitachino ginger nest beer (please allow 30 minutes for adequate dissolution).
With his new venture, Ginnetti intends to take a mixologist’s approach to sandwiches. Consider the Meat & Co. reuben, dubbed “the Rick Reuben,” after the famed record producer. The sandwich will be available made with pastrami, or tongue, or half-and-half. It will come with red cabbage, cardamon, and a special “all-day sauce,” so named because it takes all day to make.
Meat & Co. will also have vegetarian offerings, like a roasted squash sandwich with “onion frizzle” and barbecue sauce.
The “meat” in Meat & Co. isn’t just a reference to pork, beef, poultry. Ginnetti said he’s pulling on multiple meanings of the word, including “the heart of the matter.” He’s also making a pun on “meet,” a convivial sentiment that he’s underscoring with the word “company.” Ginnetti said he’s also tipping his hat to the Latin roots of that word: com means ‘together, with’ and pan is ‘bread.’
Ginnetti said Meat & Co. will be open for lunch, probably from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. The ingredients will be as locally sourced as possible. The steak and cheese, for instance, will be local beef and Landaff cheese from New Hampshire.
Ginnetti said he’s not worried about attracting a large enough lunch crowd to Crown Street, a street known more for evening drinks than daytime food. “There’s no shortage of tall buildings nearby filled with people who eat lunch,” Ginnetti said. He said he’s seen foot traffic on Crown Street increase in the six years since he opened 116 Crown.
He said Meat & Co. will have “the same sandwich prices as everywhere else.” Sandwiches will be $6 to $12, he said.
Ginnetti said the sandwiches will all be served on biodegradable paper products. Even Meat & Co.‘s garbage bags will be biodegradable, made from corn. Ginnetti said he’ll use all the waste to compost the garden behind 116 Crown.
Meat & Co. occupies a former real-estate office that Ginnetti has outfitted with stone counters. One corner is “skinned” with pieces of wooden whiskey boxes.
On Thursday afternoon, Ginnetti was still setting the place up, getting ready for a “soft opening” Friday evening during first-Friday festivities in the 9th Square, when his new sandwiches will make their debut.