With so much divide in the world today, the power of good food is still one of the few things that can bring people together. The search for something to satisfy the palette remains a continuous search for many. A simple trip to Greenville, Ohio will end the hunt for a tasty bite to eat. Deep in the heart of Darke County lies a family-owned restaurant called Maid Rite Sandwich Shoppe.
A family member of the business, Mark Koonpz, said his great aunt Louise Mayher began the restaurant back in 1934 on the corner of North Broadway, alongside her brothers Gene and Tom Mayher. He said even after almost 80 years, they remain in the same location and still serve the same meals as in years past.
“It’s pretty much stayed the same,” said Koonpz. “We added chicken salad on back in like the early 2000’s and that’s pretty much been about the extent of adding new menu items.”
Customers can enjoy their choice of seven sandwiches, including the famous loose meat sandwiches Maid Rite is known for; the Maid-Rite and its brother the Cheese-Rite, which has the same ingredients as the Maid-Rite only with cheese added. The menu also offers shakes, chips, a selection of sodas, and beers.
Another aspect of Maid Rite that has stood the test of time is the drive thru. It is one of the original designs from the beginning of the business. They sell their popular menu items in a fast food style and even have beer available to go.
Sometimes, the drive thru displays remnants of gum, stuck on by pennies, which covers the walls. This extends throughout the entire exterior of Maid Rite. It has become another famous recognition of the restaurant, the chewing gum wall. Koonpz said while they periodically wash the gum off the drive thru area because of the bees love for the sugar, they don’t clean the other areas of the gum wall.
They leave the other areas of stuck on gum on the walls intact because it is a tradition. Customers have expressed the importance of this when they visit Maid Rite.
“For some people, when they come long distances to come see us, its just part of the experience, I guess,” said Koonpz.
Koonpz said the conclusion of the family about when the gum wall tradition started was a few years after the restaurant opened. They think that as one of the customers were about to enter the restaurant; they wanted to spit their gum out but instead of spitting it on the ground, they stuck it on a penny placed it on the wall.
Since then, everyone has continued adding to the famous chewing gum wall. Sometimes the pennies have been replaced with other types of coins, papers, and other items customers stick their gum on. The creativity has transcended over the years.
According to Koonpz, the fame of the loose meat sandwiches of Maid Rite Sandwich Shoppe has even attracted celebrities. Several baseball players, including some from the Cincinnati Reds have paid a visit to Maid Rite. It is not exclusive to baseball players, though. A few football players from the Bengals have enjoyed the restaurant, too.
Next door to the restaurant is the Garst Museum, which held one of many attractions around Greenville bringing in old and new customers for a visit, the Gathering at the Garst. Koonpz said the event, which was held in July, is an annual celebration of Greenville’s historical attributes. There is a Living History Encampment, featuring actors recreating the life and times as they were, between 1750 and 1865. From the clothing to the activities, they make you feel as if you are going back in time.
The demonstrations truly give a sense of what individuals did during this time period. Blacksmiths, weavers, and craftsmen show the crowd the different skills needed to survive back then.
He said during these events, as well as others, such as the Darke County Fair, and the Anne Oakley Festival, he saw several people who used to reside in the area return.
“We have a lot of people that come back, to go to those and then, when they come back to town, a lot of people, fortunately for us like to stop back by the restaurant, as well,“ said Koonpz.
Koonpz said he is proud of the contributions the business makes in the community. He said they have provided food for Greenville City Schools during sporting and other school events.
“It’s been a staple in the community,” said Koonpz.
The loyalty their customers have is appreciated and is a big part of why they are still in business 80 years later.
“We’re more than thankful for all the local customers who come through,” said Koonpz.
With all the changes in technology, the old charm of Maid Rite continues to hold its own in the food industry.
“We’re an old school type of burger place and that fits us well,” said Koonpz.