Story & photos by Patrick Alexander

Oregon Coast TODAY

Sandwich lovers of Lincoln City rejoice! The dark days of sammich-starved winters are behind you. The long, cold months spent looking longingly at the closed doors of Deli 101 are but a memory.

This year, the beloved Lincoln City deli is staying open all through the winter as manager Greg Hill and his family forego their annual break in order to keep the community going with a steady supply of Ruebens, BLTs, clubs and much more.

“People are stoked that we are staying open,” Hill said. “They are very happy. Now I don’t get verbally assaulted while I’m out doing my banking.”

Guests coming through the doors in search of a winter warmer will not be disappointed, with Hill changing up his soup selections to offer hearty recipes such as minestrone and split pea with ham hock, as well as the ever-present and always-comforting clam chowder.

“In the winter, I like to make my soups a lot less brothy and a lot more sturdy,” he said.

Hill also relishes the new ingredients that come with the changing seasons — using plenty of squash in the fall and putting beans to use during the winter in a heart-warming chili.

Old-fashioned ingredients like salt pork and ham hock also find their way on to the winter menu, as Hill aims to keep guests’ motors running with a selection of hearty meals.

Take for example the Deli 101 chef’s salad, a combination of turkey, ham, Tillamook cheddar, red onions, black olives, hard-boiled egg and bacon that packs enough of a protein punch to have guests leaping tall buildings with a single bound.

And the deli’s range of hot sandwiches features Hill’s personal favorite, the

“Muffaletta,” which combines salami, mortadella and olive salad along with mozzarella and provolone cheeses in a muffaletta roll with Creole mustard. Both the bread and the olive salad are regularly flown in from New Orleans.

Other popular items on the menu include the Sissy — one of Hill’s signature creations, combining Genoa salami, ham, bacon and provolone cheese with lettuce, onion and tomato — all drizzled with balsamic dressing and served on a baguette.

But one of the charms of Deli 101 is that the menu is less a set of rules and more a collection of guidelines. If you don’t see what you want on there, Hill and his able crew are only too happy to whip up something to order.

One of this season’s off-menu specials is a club sandwich that packs turkey, ham, mayonnaise, cheddar cheese, provolone, bacon, lettuce and tomato into a towering structure that seems to defy the laws of physics.

The deli also prides itself on crafting sandwiches that are irresistible to even the pickiest kid — with PBJs and grilled cheeses among the specialties.

As the weather turns, the crowds of customers grabbing a sandwich to take to the beach have gradually been replaced by guests who want to sit in and enjoy the cosy surroundings — complete with a soundtrack straight out of MoTown.

“We just want a warm, welcoming environment, a place that’s good for kids,” Hill said. “We don’t want to be sterile or starchy or have people feel like they have to wear a tie. And we keep the heat cranked up during the winter.”

That said, the lure of the great outdoors still proves irresistible to some, who load up their arms with sandwich boxes emblazoned with Deli 101’s distinctive, red white and blue logo.

“We still do have stormwatchers and whale watchers,” Hill said. “Hardy souls that have the Columbia coats or North Face coats. I assume they are eating in the front seat of their car while looking at the ocean.”

Whether eating in or just waiting for their order, guests can browse the deli’s gift shop, which boasts an eclectic range of items from all around the world.

The driving force behind the selection is Hill’s globetrotting mother, Glenys, whose recent travels have taken her to Turkey, Italy, Thailand and Cambodia. At each new stop, she hit the local markets, picking up everything from earrings, jewelry and ornaments to a collection of gourmet vinegars and olive oils.

“She loves the thrill of the hunt,” Hill said.

There’s no chance of Hill following in his mother’s footsteps and jetting off anywhere this winter, however. He and wife Kristina will take a week off over Christmas to recharge their batteries but will be back at it come Tuesday, Dec. 29 — serving up winter cheer one sandwich at a time.

Deli 101 is located at 1509 SW Hwy. 101, Lincoln City. Winter hours are 11 am to 3 pm, Tuesday through Saturday. They offer a 15-percent discount for active duty military and veterans every day and a 15-percent discount for seniors on Tuesdays. Call them at 541-614-1300 or go to www.deli101.com for details.

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