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The small sandwich shop on a busy corner in downtown Hickory opened inauspiciously two weeks ago. The lights went on and the door was unlocked, and Hatch Sandwich Bar opened without fanfare ... yet.
For owners Zach Harkins and Colin Makin, Hatch is their first venture as owners of a restaurant, but it‚Äôs a dream both have had for years.
Harkins attended UNC-Chapel Hill and Appalachian State University. He graduated from ASU in 2011 with a bachelor‚Äôs degree in communications.
Makin, originally from Boonsboro, Md., graduated from ASU in 2008 with degrees in philosophy and religion.
The young entrepreneurs met at The Speckled Trout Cafe in Blowing Rock where they both worked ‚ÄĒ Harkins as a waiter and Makin as a dishwasher.
They decided they liked working in a restaurant and talked about the possibility of that in the future.
‚ÄúMy plans were to hopefully graduate, find a job and then open a restaurant,‚ÄĚ Harkins said. ‚ÄúI found this space on a corner and fell in love with it. It‚Äôs small ‚ÄĒ just what we were looking for to do our own thing.
‚ÄúColin moved down here to help me open the shop,‚ÄĚ he said.
Harkins‚Äô interest in cooking began when he was in high school.
‚ÄúI cooked for the family, and they liked that,‚ÄĚ he said. ‚ÄúLate at night and into the morning I experimented with different recipes.
‚ÄúI woke my parents up a number of times,‚ÄĚ he laughed. ‚ÄúMy first recipe from scratch was a Maple Glazed Pork Chop ‚ÄĒ they loved it.‚ÄĚ
Harkins entertained no ideas about becoming a chef then or now ‚ÄĒ at least not the ‚Äúformal‚ÄĚ four-year degree from a culinary arts school.
‚ÄúSure, Colin and I both enjoy cooking, and we‚Äôll cook here (at Hatch), but we want it to be laid back and fun,‚ÄĚ Harkins said.
Harkins said he became interested in submarine sandwiches when he was in high school.
‚ÄúI worked at Firehouse Subs in Hickory and really got into subs,‚ÄĚ he said. ‚ÄúThen, I started cooking fish next. I watched the PBS show ‚ÄėGreat Chefs‚Äô and tried to copy them.‚ÄĚ
The cuisine at Hatch is a nice assortment of sandwiches, plates and sides. Though the menu is small, it packs a punch.
Harkins and Makin enjoy Southeast Asian, Vietnamese and Thai cuisines, so naturally that‚Äôs reflected in the food.
One of the most popular sandwiches so far is the Pulled Pork Banh Mi ... with cilantro, pickled carrot, mayo and hot sauce.
‚ÄúWe roast the pork shoulder in house,‚ÄĚ Harkins said.
Another favorite is the Veggie Reuben ... brussel sprouts, Russian dressing, fontina cheese, kraut and peanuts.
How about some balogna? Hatch serves up a Baloney Sub with chipotle mayo, cheddar and barbecue chips.
And the Grilled Cheese, well, it‚Äôs not your grandma‚Äôs grilled cheese. Hatch‚Äôs Grilled Cheese is three ounces of asiago, American and fontina cheeses.
‚ÄúMost of the recipes are simple, nothing too funny,‚ÄĚ Harkins quipped.
No ordinary bread is served at Hatch. Their breads are delivered from Nova‚Äôs Bakery in Charlotte.
‚ÄúThe right bread makes a huge difference. Nova‚Äôs is the only place that will deliver to us, what we want,‚ÄĚ Harkins said. ‚ÄúI saw a sign in Viewmont about a bakery opening. I hope so ‚ÄĒ we‚Äôd like to use their breads.‚ÄĚ
Harkins and Makin make their own pickled carrots, complete with rice wine vinegar.
‚ÄúNot as you get in Vietnam, but I‚Äôm from the South, after all,‚ÄĚ Harkins grinned.
Harkins hopes to offer a country ham plate soon, as well as soups and salads. The menu changes almost daily, but the most popular items remain.
‚ÄúCustomers love our Mac ‚Äėn Cheese,‚ÄĚ Harkins said.
Fresh veggies are used as much as possible. When the Hickory downtown Farmers Market opens, Harkins said they‚Äôll use their produce exclusively.
‚ÄúWe don‚Äôt use tomatoes out of season,‚ÄĚ he said. ‚ÄúIn season, we‚Äôll be tomato-heavy on the menu. We like fresh herbs and feature them heavily.
‚ÄúCustomers enjoy what we‚Äôre doing, and every day business picks up,‚ÄĚ he said.
Harkins and Makin hope to stay in their present location as long as possible. They want people to think of downtown Hickory as a destination point.
‚ÄúWe also hope to be a popular lunchtime destination,‚ÄĚ Makin said.
‚ÄúThere‚Äôs a lot of foot traffic in downtown Hickory, and that‚Äôs good for all of us.‚ÄĚ
Future plans include catering, but Harkins and Makin want to make sure the restaurant is doing well.
What about that name, ‚ÄúHatch?‚ÄĚ Authentic New Mexican Hatch Chiles are a favorite Southwestern chile named after the original growing area in Hatch, N.M.
‚ÄúOne day I was looking at a can of Hatch Chiles, and I decided to use them and the name,‚ÄĚ Harkins said. ‚ÄúI like the name.‚ÄĚ
Hatch Sandwich Bar is located at 268 First Ave. NW in downtown Hickory.
Hours are 10:30 a.m.-2 p.m., Monday, 10:30 a.m-9 p.m., Tuesday-Saturday. Closed Sunday. Call 828-322-1196