When Sandwiches to Go in Nashville closed six weeks ago, Mark and Connie Martinmianakis jumped at the chance to open a new cafe there.
On Monday, they did just that, opening Olive Tree Cafe across the street from the Nash County Courthouse.
For more than one reason, they said, it made sense for them to open the cafe at 231 Washington St. that serves breakfast and lunch. It’s open from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday.
Connie Martinmianakis had worked in the kitchen at Sandwiches to Go, so she was familiar with the space and customers.
The couple, who live in Wilson, also are active in Church on the Rise in Nashville.
“God was leading us to go into this business,” Connie Martinmianakis said.
Mark Martinmianakis, who works as a manager for the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services, had similar thoughts.
“They had closed down (the sandwich shop) and were just looking for someone to take over,” he said. “God just spoke to us to do something different in our life.”
He took a month and a half off work to get the new business up and running, and plans to go back to his state job as his wife runs the cafe.
The breakfast menu includes several items for $3.89. Among them are “The Sunshiner,” which includes scrambled eggs and cheddar cheese on a croissant bun, and the “Scrambled Delight Casserole,” which includes eggs, ham, onion, green and red peppers topped with cheddar cheese.
The menu includes several salads including “Downtown Nashville Salad.” For $6.39, it includes chicken salad, ham or turkey breast on lettuce with tomato, cucumber, broccoli and olives.
Sandwiches such as the “Highway 58 Special” are $5.99. That sandwich is stuffed with ham, turkey, spicy pork, Swiss cheese, pickle, spicy brown mustard on sourdough bread.
“We’re just trying to get things that a lot of other restaurants don’t have,” Mark Martinmianakis said.
Customers can also build their own sandwich for $5.99, choosing meats that include turkey, ham, grilled chicken or chunky chicken salad.
The cafe also offers desserts such as key lime pie and freshly baked oatmeal cookies.
The cafe also offers daily specials, healthy food choices and catering for any part or event. Catered food needs to be picked up as they don’t deliver.
Mark Martinmianakis said they are hoping for more than just the courthouse crowd as customers.
“Really, (we want) everyone throughout this whole neighborhood,” he said. “We are reaching out to everybody. We want to reach out to the community and not just be another sandwich shop.”
He said the cafe can also be an asset because he and his wife participate in a soup kitchen known as Compassion Cafe and a church ministry Bible-study program for at-risk kids.
“It would be so nice to have (at-risk kids) here too, to be able to have a family environment and sit down,” he said. “We always talk about their day.”
For several weeks, they have been sprucing up the space, painting the walls and installing a new heating system.
“We didn’t have much light,” Mark said. “We wanted to change it. It used to be freezing in here.”
Connie Martinmianakis said even though she prepared sandwiches at the previous cafe, she feels like she is learning all over again because the menu is so different.
“We’re excited,” she said. “We wanted to have this little ambiance that people would enjoy.”
Mark Martinmianakis said there is a totally different feel in their cafe.
“You just feel at home when you come in here. You feel that warmth,” he said.