After a year and a half of testing her creations in pop-ups, a Honey Butter Fried Chicken alum will open her own sandwich shop in Avondale this weekend. TriBecca’s Sandwich Shop, run by Becca Grothe, will serve nine sandwiches to start with, including regular and vegetarian versions of both her popular Cubano and the horseshoe, a central Illinois classic featuring a protein and crinkle fries piled on Texas toast and covered with a layer of melted cheese.
TriBecca’s will also serve Tuber’s Donuts, a project from Grothe’s husband Cam Waron, Honey Butter’s culinary director. The doughnuts are made from potato flour, fried in clarified butter, and served with an array of unusual toppings, including chocolate ganache and fried potatoes and sour cream, chives, bacon, and cotija cheese.
“I’m anxious and nervous, but mostly excited,” says Grothe. [During the pop-ups] we really got an idea of what sandwiches were people’s favorites and what we wanted to eat.” Service will be pickup and delivery during dinner hours to start, but will soon expand to lunches, and eventually dine-in service once the tiny, eight-seat dining room is ready.
The new restaurant is just a short walk from Honey Butter, and that’s by design: TriBecca’s, like Honey Butter, grew out of Christine Cikowski and Josh Kulp’s Sunday Dinner Club, and during the pandemic, Grothe’s sandwiches popped up at Honey Butter every Monday. Cikowski and Kulp have a half-ownership in TriBecca’s and are sharing their business services, like accounting, bookkeeping, social media, and HR. “It offers us an opportunity to teach people about that stuff instead of having them learn through trial by fire,” says Cikowski.
But TriBecca’s is most definitely Grothe’s: the sandwiches were all created by her, and the design of the dining room was inspired by her childhood in Galesburg, Illinois, with nods to her grandmother’s tablecloths, her mother’s love of flamingos, the shoe repair shop her father used to own, and her beloved St. Louis Cardinals. (“I am prepared to defend it,” she says.) The name is a pun derived by Waron: “try Becca’s.” The broccoli ranch salad is based on a concoction she would assemble as a teenager at the Pizza Hut salad bar which, she says, was “the epitome of deliciousness.” The kids’ grilled cheese sandwich comes in the shape of a dinosaur because when she tested it on her son, he got very excited.
In the next few months, TriBecca’s will start offering weekend brunch — a collection of egg sandwiches named for the four main characters on The Golden Girls — and eventually Grothe hopes to expand to a larger space with a larger menu. Cikowski and Kulp also hope to help launch another of their employees on their own venture.
But for now, Grothe says, “we really want to get started and start serving food.”
TriBecca’s Sandwich Shop, 2949 W. Belmont Avenue, Open 4:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Thursday through Monday.