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Launched at former auto shop, Old Garage Deli revs up the appetite

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Admiring the building’s transformation, customers smile while ordering sandwiches at the Old Garage Deli, 19059 Route 11, town of Watertown.

“I’ve heard more than a few people say, ‘The last time I was here, I dropped my car off to get repaired,’” said Scott R. Graveline, who volunteered to help owner Jaime L. Short open the eatery April 22 in the building that formerly was Ames Bros. Service Center.

A checkered cement floor and large manual garage door provide the aura of a body shop at the eatery, where Ms. Short has worked since October to transform it into her deli. Signs of automotive work that used to take place here still are present: an air-pressure gauge attached to a paint separator and a kerosene torch remain were they were installed. Miscellaneous tools hangs from the walls.

The deli’s “garage specialties” include sandwiches named after cars: the Edison grilled chicken, the General Lee, with provolone on a portobello mushroom with red peppers and balsamic vinegar sauce, and the Thunderbird, loaded with turkey, ham, provolone, bacon, lettuce, tomato and homemade chipotle mayonnaise.

“Everyone knows the ‘General Lee’ car, because our generation grew up with it,” said Ms. Short, who was born in 1977. “That car needed to go with a sandwich that makes people say, ‘Oh, my gosh, that was great!’”

“And the Thunderbird reminds you of hard-working blue-collar workers,” she said. “It’s hardy and going to fill them up at lunch. When a construction worker comes in here the middle of the day, they’re going to still be full at 6 o’clock.”

The menu also aims to appease the health-conscious with its Garage Salad, featuring fresh greens, goat cheese, mandarin oranges, dried cranberries and sunflower seeds.

Children may gravitate toward the Beetle Bug, a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Or consider the Mater or Doc Hudson, sandwiches named after characters in the Disney film “Cars.”

“I think my menu will appeal to the blue-collar, white-collar, yuppies and hippies, because it has everything,” Ms. Short said.

The deli has three employees and is expected to hire more this summer, Ms. Short said.

The dining area will expand outside when the weather warms, she said, and the garage door will be opened up and affixed with a screen to accommodate customers. An ice cream shop also will be started at another garage adjacent to the deli, offering an array of hard and soft ice creams and milkshakes.

“I like the space because if it’s raining, you can sit inside, listen to the rain and not get wet,” Ms. Short said.

The Old Garage Deli is open from 10:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Saturday. Call 681-6520 to place a takeout order, or visit www.facebook.com/oldgaragedeli.

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