Rapoport’s Restaurant Group, led by veteran restaurateur Burt Rapoport, has been bringing South Florida award-winning dining concepts for a number of years. They have now expanded their successful roster of restaurants into the sandwich industry with their latest location, E & J’s. Open seven days a week, E & J’s Sandwich Shop is situated at 814 E. Atlantic Ave, just a few doors down from their popular weekend hotspot, Deck 84. Whether stopping in to pick up a quick lunch before heading to the beach or enjoying a relaxing summer evening with a traditional cold cut on their covered outdoor terrace, this nostalgic-style sandwich shop gives customers the option to take out or dine in for breakfast, lunch or dinner. The Pineapple sits down with Eric Clark, General Manager of Deck 84 and co-operator of E & J’s to discuss this latest Rapoport project.
How did the opportunity to open the sandwich shop come about? Old School Bakery was planning on moving out, so the landlord approached Rapoport’s Restaurant Group looking for a concept to fill in the soon to be vacant space. We felt that Delray Beach was in need of a local, traditional sandwich shop and couldn’t pass up this prime location on Atlantic Ave. Have you had any experience running sandwich shops before? Decks 84’s Executive Chef Jon Greening and myself, make up the managing team. With the two of us combined we have had over two decades worth of experience opening or running restaurants in South Florida. Anywhere from classy sit down concepts, to causal seafood bars to, yes, even sandwich shops. We have a good feeling about this location and the menu. It seemed like a natural fit when the opportunity presented itself and Burt Rapoport agreed. Where did the E & J’s name come from? Burt, Chef Jon and myself were discussing the sandwich shop concept and Burt said, “I think that we should name the shop after the two of you.” So he incorporated both our names, Eric and Jon, and simply came upwithE&J’s Sandwich Shop.
What are some of the sandwiches offered? E & J’s opens daily at 8 a.m. so we offer choices like granola & yogurt, oatmeal, egg sandwiches and assorted pastries, freshly baked by Deck 84’s pastry chef. For lunch or dinner, customers have the choice of hot or cold sandwiches or wraps. We offer traditional favorites like the Italian, French Dip, B.L.T. and Cheesesteaks as well as a number of signature creations like a Burto’s Sandwich, Classic Bologna Sandwich, Sausage & Peppers, or Albacore Tuna Salad. Even the Classic Bologna Sandwich? Tell us about that one! Everyone remembers eating a bologna and cheese sandwich growing up so we knew it had to be a staple on our menu. At E&J’soursis made from fried bologna, American cheese, Hellman’s Mayonnaise on white bread. Simple, classic and exactly how mom made it, or at least how she should have made it. Explain the Burto’s Sandwich Burto’s is made up of oven roasted turkey, Swiss cheese, roast beef, coleslaw, and Thousand Island dressing on a kaiser roll. Clearly it is named after Burt Rapoport, who wanted to include the signature sandwich that he has been ordering since he was a kid growing up in New York. What sets this sandwich shop apart from others on the Ave? Our goal was to create a local sandwich shop where customers can expect a menu they are familiar with; traditional, signature items that they ate growing up. We want customers remembering the local shops they use to visit as a kid. You’re always going to know what you’re going to get here. Great service, sandwiches made from fresh, quality ingredients for a great value. As a tribute to the former lease holder, we actually get our sandwich bread baked fresh from Old School Bakery.
Any plans on expanding? Only if it’s the right fit. We don’t want to start another location just to expand. If the opportunity comes about we would definitely be open to the idea of another location, possibly in East Boca Raton or Ft. Lauderdale, but there’s no rush. Every cold cut hoagie comes with the choice of a number of toppings, one being E&J’s dressing. How would you describe E & J’s dressing? It’s a bit of a secret recipe from Chef Jon. What I can tell you is that it’s made with a lot of the traditional flavors you’d expect from a great homemade dressing, like fresh garlic, extra virgin olive oil, red wine vinegar and a special blend of herbs and spices. Once you try it on a sandwich you’ll love it and that’s why we sell it at E&J`s by the bottle as well. Last questions, which is YOUR favorite sandwich to order? I would have to go with” The Monster”. It’s another one of our signature sandwiches. You have to bring your appetite for this one. Oven roasted turkey, roast beef, American cheese and cherry wood smoked ham loaded up with all the toppings, stuffed inside a foot long fresh baked hoagie roll, you can’t go wrong.