The Baja lady is back.
Except this time, she has switched from burritos to sandwiches.
Restaurateur Maureen Maynard opened Upper Crust Sandwich Shoppe July 8 on Main Street, directly east of the Howard County Courthouse.
At less than a week old, her restaurant by the middle of last week was almost full during lunch.
Along with some word-of-mouth advertising that has brought in business, many patrons at the sandwich shop were regulars at Maynard’s previous, made-to-order-style restaurant, Baja Burrito.
She opened the Mexican joint in 2010, but she closed
it within a year after the Kokomo Elks Lodge bought the Sycamore Street building where her business was.
It was the second Baja Burrito Maynard opened and closed downtown. She had also owned a Mexican restaurant in Monticello.
“I’ve been down here twice with Baja” she said. “I had good reviews on it, but it just wasn’t for me. ... When I closed Baja, I said I was never going to do this again, but it’s just my passion.”
After shuffling down a few buildings and around the block, she decided to switch to sandwiches.
The menu features six sandwiches so far, with more likely to come.
Customers can also order chicken noodle or potato soup. Or they can load up their plates at a salad bar.
Maynard said her sandwiches are not intended to make people uncomfortably full. Instead, they serve as a lighter for mid-day meals.
Menu selections aren’t the usual, plain slice or two of turkey on white bread. Most come with a variation on the norm.
Maynard’s personal favorite, hot ham and cheese, has a Hawaiian tweak with pineapple slices.
And the grilled cheese comes dressed up almost like a BLT with bacon and tomato accompanying cheddar and white American cheese. That, like with all the sandwiches, comes with the options of white, wheat and sour dough Amish homemade bread.
Sandwich prices are a few cents more than “$5 Footlongs” — the highest price is $6.25 at Upper Crust. Unlike the fast food chain’s well-received discount, the locally owned restaurant also includes chips and a pickle spear on the side.
The menu will likely grow.
Maynard plans to add chorizo tortas, which are Mexican-style sandwiches with spicy sausage.
Breakfast is also an option for anyone who wants a bacon, egg and cheese sandwich and calls ahead.
Upper Crust is open to cover the brunt of the lunch rush downtown during the week. The sandwich shop is also
experimenting with Saturdays, when people gather at the Kokomo Downtown Farmers Market behind the building.
• Daniel Human is the Kokomo Tribune business reporter. He can be reached at 765-454-8570 or at daniel.human@kokomo