Walking around Edgartown during lunch time, whether it’s mid-July or the end of March, stomach grumbling and ready for lunch, you weigh your options and realize you’re craving a sandwich. A brisk walk toward Upper Main Street and you’ve arrived at sandwich heaven, also known as Shiretown Meats, owned by father-son team Dave and Dan Vaughan.
Having grown up on a farm, where processing chickens on a daily basis was part of his job, Dave was interested in the business of butchering early on. Going off to butchery training school in Toledo, Ohio, he developed a passion that ultimately brought him to the Island. Here, he opened the A&P Store in 1966, where he was the head butcher. Fast-forward to 1982, and thanks to the business savviness of his wife Ann, Shiretown Meats was born. When Dave attended a SCORE class at the high school, Ann had subtly suggested that opening up a small business on-Island would be a good idea.
The shop has been located on Upper Main Street in Edgartown since 1991, where customers flock during peak lunch hours to get their fill of some of the best subs on the Island. Also known as a wedge, hoagie, hero, grinder, baguette, or one of the many regional variations, here on-Island just say you’re going to Shiretown, and everyone knows what you mean. Alongside his son Dan, who takes care of the sandwich menu along with all the prepared foods, Dave talks about the business with a sense of pride. And sure it’s sentimentalized, but working with family has its benefits, and you can see how well the balance works between Dan and Dave.
Talk to Dan for a few minutes, and his energy is contagious — the love he has for what he does really sets him apart. As I browse the case, he stands up straight next to it, happy to explain to me how he makes each and every prepared salad on display. “Nothing is premade here — from the Boston baked beans to the potato salad and ‘cheddah’ mac and cheese, we’re making it all from scratch,” he says as he hands me a taste of his popular kale soup. Every day a couple of storemade soups are offered, but typically it’s either chili or kale soup on the menu. As I cradle a cup of steaming hot kale soup and take my first slurp, I understand why it’s a favorite: The tender short ribs, along with the spiced linguica sausage, come together with delicious root vegetables like potatoes and carrots, and of course the kale. The broth is savory and delicious; if you’re ever looking for a quick lunch or just craving soup, this is a must.
Obviously, you’re not going to Shiretown just for the soups, right? The subs are where it’s at, and with a menu of more than two dozen sandwiches, the options are endless. All subs are $8.89 plus tax, which makes it easier on everyone. Just a taste of the offerings include: Italian, Roast Beef Deluxe, Turkey Gobbler, Cuban, Steak and Cheese, Hot Pastrami, Chicken Cordon Bleu, Buffalo Chicken, among others.
The last, and probably most important, reason you’re stopping in Shiretown Meats is just that — the meats. Dave is the man cutting all of your steaks, pork, and lamb chops, and grinding the beef for those incredible burger patties. He sources some of the best meats, and once you’re at the counter, he’ll run you through a variety of different options for grilling, roasting, or braising them. Even if you’ve never cooked a whole leg of lamb before, Dave will guide you through every step of the process, and you’ll leave the shop feeling like you have the secrets of the meat world in your hands.
With grilling season now upon us, you can’t miss grabbing a couple of the storemade sausages — everything from chicken and feta to buffalo chicken, along with popular favorites like Chinese sausage, with flavor combinations that are creative and unique. Grab a couple of packages, along with some buns, and you’re ready for summer. With outdoor seating and parking in the back, I’m sure this will become your go-to summer lunch spot. I know it’s become mine already.
Visit Dave and Dan, along with their talented employees Yulia and Aldo, every day except Sundays from 8 am to 6 pm. Follow them on Facebook at bit.ly/ShiretownMeats, and order your subs to go by calling 508-627-5115.