DeKALB – Tom Schmidt puts his own spin on signature sandwiches from cities all over the United States.
Schmidt has been serving his 14 specialty sandwiches, as well as wings, burgers, salads and appetizers, for about two months at the Hometown Sports Bar and Grill, located at 241 E. Lincoln Highway in downtown DeKalb.
“We have a full bar, a great menu and hopefully a fun atmosphere,” he said.
The names of the sandwiches are as unique as their ingredients. “The Cool Breeze” sandwich, inspired by New Orleans, is a Louisiana-style po’boy served with grilled shrimp and homemade cajun sauce on a toasted roll.
“The King,” inspired by Elvis Presley’s home in Memphis, Tenn., is a grilled banana and peanut butter sandwich on white bread. Another specialty sandwich, “The Ray Finkle,” inspired by Miami, is a fried red snapper sandwich topped with a homemade sauce, lettuce and tomatoes on a toasted roll.
The restaurant also serves homemade chips with a homemade salsa that’s on the sweeter side but has a little kick. Prices for sandwiches start at around $4, and burgers with fries start at $3.75.
Schmidt said diners have yet to complete the food challenge called “The Closer.” It’s two half-pound cheeseburgers stacked so high with Italian beef, sausage, giardiniera, marinara, lettuce, tomatoes and fries, that it has to be served on a pizza tray. If challengers eat the 6- to 7-pound sandwich, along with the side of fresh-cut fries, in less than 30 minutes, it’s free. He said about a half-dozen people have tried it so far, but no one has been able to complete it. He plans to start a hall of fame for anyone who can complete the challenge.
Schmidt said no matter where you’re sitting in the restaurant, you have a good view of at least one TV that’s tuned to a sports channel.
“I like to think it’s energetic and fun,” he said of the atmosphere. “We’re trying to make it a great place to bring the whole family, watch a game with the kids and have fun.”
Schmidt, who’s from Batavia, said his family is involved in running the restaurant. He said while growing up, sports were a big part of his life and they continue to be in his kids’ lives, too, which is why the sports theme was an easy fit for them.
His experience in the restaurant and bar business stemmed from his parents owning a banquet hall and a few bars when he was growing up. He said he enjoyed cooking because of his mom, who made everything from scratch.
Schmidt said the restaurant also strives to provide excellent service, and he hopes people leave with a good impression of the whole dining experience.
He said he’s looking forward to working with the downtown merchants in the future to come up with ways to bring more people downtown. He said the Hometown Sports Bar and Grill has a unique food concept, and he hopes it catches on.
“I hope they come out and give us a try,” he said. “We have a lot to offer.”
The Hometown Sports Bar and Grill is open 11 a.m.-midnight Sunday-Tuesday; 11 a.m.-1 a.m. Wednesday-Thursday; and 11 a.m.-2 a.m. Friday-Saturday.
What: Hometown Sports Bar and Grill
Where: 241 E. Lincoln Highway, DeKalb