Knuckle Sandwiches muscles its way into Northeast Mesa
September 5, 2019
By Christina Fuoco-Karasinski
Former Schlotzsky’s Bakery and Café owner Roscoe Smith was looking to spread his culinary wings. Once he took a bite out of the independent sandwich scene, he was sold.
Recently, he and his wife, Ginette, opened Knuckle Sandwiches at Brown and Higley roads in Northeast Mesa out of a “need for a better sandwich shop.” The restaurant is in the former location of his Schlotzsky’s franchise.
“I decided to get out of a franchise,” said Smith, a Chicago native.
“My franchise agreement was coming up to be renewed and I didn’t renew. I decided to go independent. It’s been a rollercoaster ride, but it’s fun.”
Knuckle Sandwiches opens for breakfast at 8 a.m. to serve breakfast burritos, hash browns, bagel sandwiches and parfaits.
Lunch sees the “jab” (3 ounces); “hook” (6 ounces) and the knockout (9 ounces). The choices are aplenty with turkey, corned beef, BLATT (bacon, lettuce, avocado, turkey, tomato and mayo), pastrami, ham and cheese, turkey cranberry, ham melt, roast beef, hot stuff chicken, corned beef Rueben, veggie and pastrami Rueben.
Some are exclusively knockouts—the meatball sub, “knuckle sandwich” (braised pot roast, swiss cheese, grilled onions and horseradish), steak sub, portobello (avocado, tomato, asiago, lettuce on two grilled portobello mushroom caps), Dagwood (ham, turkey, chicken, cheddar, Swiss, lettuce, tomato, cucumber, green pepper, onions, coleslaw, dill pickles, olives and bread and butter pickles), and the traditional hero.
“The knockout sandwiches you really can’t find anywhere else,” he said. “We have a really nice-sized meatball sub. We have the hero sub with mortadella, pepperoni, Genoa salami, capicola, provolone, mozzarella, oregano, red wine vinegar, lettuce, tomato and onion. The bread we use for those subs is really crusty on the outside and soft in the middle.
“The portobello sandwich is where we literally use the mushroom caps as bread.”
Finally, there are the wraps—beef, barbecue chicken and turkey—and paninis, which include brie and apples or pears; turkey and Swiss; bacon, spinach, onion and mozzarella; turkey, basil pesto, spinach and parmesan; tomato, mozzarella and basil; five cheese; spinach, tomato, avocado and cheddar; and The Sweet! with ham, mango chutney, brie and tomato.
Tuna and chicken salad sandwiches are served cold, and salads are offered as well. Kids meals are a specialty.
“It was time for the neighborhood to have a change,” said Smith, who live in Queen Creek. “Schlotzsky’s has its own following and a lot of people are loyal to it.
“In my opinion, franchises are for people who don’t have a culinary background. I felt sheltered and kind of locked in. I thought there were things we could do differently or do better. But you know, you have to follow the rules.”