Photos by Christian David Turner and Derek Bell
On any given weekday, native Romans and visitors alike can revel in a harmonious celebration of food and music by strolling down to 510 Broad Street. With one foot in the door, the atmosphere takes over as customers are greeted by smiling faces and a wide variety of musical selections that could make the stiffest hips start shaking.
Next, the aroma of fresh farm-to-table ingredients permeating the eclectically decorated space overwhelms the olfactory senses, officially welcoming visitors to Rome’s new kid on the block in the restaurant biz, Jamwich.
Just a short dance away, as the line backs up to the door most days, awaits a menu board unlike any other, where sandwiches become “Jamwiches.” These are the creations of owner Shadae Yancey-Warren, who dreamed of owning her own restaurant from an early age and found inspiration rather close to home.
“I was 8 years old when I first started working in restaurants,” recalls Warren. “On Fridays and Saturdays, I would go into Cragsmere Mana in Mentone, Ala., with my mother and work in the back fixing drinks and salads. The waitresses would tip me out $10 at the end of the night and my daddy would take me to the music shop so I could buy records. That seemed like a fortune to me back then and I couldn’t think of anything better to spend it on than new music.
“Music and food are the two greatest passions I have and to bring those two things together for the concept of my restaurant was really meant to be,” Warren continues. “My mother makes organic jams and jellies that are family recipes passed down for generations, and both my mother and father were and still are great appreciators of music. With her jams and jellies as the inspiration for the menu and the love of good tunes they instilled in me, Jamwich just made sense.”
After those early years of voluntary child labor, her fond memories led her to work in various restaurants in a variety of positions, including stints as a hostess at Applebee’s, Mountain Cove Farms making sandwiches, waiting tables at The Brass Lantern Café in Summerville and many more.
This tour de force of the local restaurant circuit was something Warren enjoyed, soaking up knowledge of the food and beverage industry at every turn until she wrapped up her marketing degree at Georgia Northwestern Technical College. From there, she completed an internship at La Scala Mediterranean Bistro before vowing not to return to the restaurant business until she could open her own establishment.
“I learned a lot at every stop, but I knew from the beginning that I wanted to own my own place; I just didn’t know what I wanted it to be,” says Warren. “I accidentally created the Orange Turkey [an original Jamwich] after Thanksgiving in 2010. My mother made a batch of her cranberry orange jam for me and since I am not a fan of canned cranberry sauce, it found its way onto two slices of bread with the leftover turkey and some gouda cheese. I didn’t really put it together until now, but that was the birth of Jamwich.”
From that moment on, her husband, Michael, and their boys, Jagger and Swade, served as her focus group, tasting each new creation until her menu was settled and only the location remained a mystery.
Once again, fate played its hand. Warren fell in love with downtown Rome while working at Jefferson’s back in 2004, a love which only grew during a four-year stretch in sales for this very magazine (V3). She knew she wanted to open her sandwich shop on Broad Street and one day, while out on sales calls, she noticed the former location of the Victorian Rose Tea Room was available for lease.
When she called to inquire about the space and realized the owner was family friend Bobby Lee Cook of Summerville, she knew right away that Jamwich had found a place to call home.
“We actually have a sandwich called the Bobbylee that is named after Mr. Cook,” says Warren. “I waited on him many times during my time at the Brass Lantern Café and he always ordered a hot pimento cheese sandwich with tomatoes. We only offer a few ‘classic’ sandwiches on our menu and that certainly had to be one of them.”
With one year under her belt, Warren has achieved what she set out to do, in creating a menu and environment like none other on Broad Street. Her focus on fresh breads, meats, cheeses, vegetables, and – of course – jams and jellies, shines through in the finished product that hits the plate.
“I strive to buy all-natural ingredients,” says Warren. “Tucker Farms provides all of my hydroponic greens. My mother’s jams are made with all-natural ingredients and made weekly just for Jamwich. I use a little bakery in Marietta for all of our breads and, of course, we exclusively sell Boar’s Head meats, which are hormone and preservative free. Everything here is handmade and that’s simply something you can’t get at most restaurants.”
While jam on bread with anything other than peanut butter may strike some as odd, fan favorites like the Peachy Q will convert even the most skeptic eaters into getting their “jam on.” Warren’s creations have been dubbed “music for your mouth” by her loyal customers and, while there are plenty of words to describe them, the only way you can truly understand their magic is to try them for yourself.
One such creation that is certainly a favorite of many is the Drewberry. Consisting of London broil, gruyere cheese, raspberry jalapeno jam, organic greens and a smoked horseradish mayo, it would be an understatement to say there is an explosion of flavor on this original Jamwich. With a sense of adventure, diners quickly learn that this is the case with all of the Drewberry’s brothers and sisters as well.
“I believe each one of our sandwiches is its own work of art,” says Warren. “They each have a unique personality that makes them stand out in a crowd and are named accordingly, so there is a story behind each of our menu items.”
The staff, which Warren lovingly calls her “Jamily,” consists of a few staples with Dakota Barton holding things down in the kitchen and Natasha Bivins running the dining room. They are a lively bunch, to say the least, and are as much a part of the atmosphere as the tour posters and funky décor splashed across the walls and ceilings of the restaurant. It’s a common occurrence to have a sandwich danced to your table, so don’t be surprised if it happens.
“Those two girls are an extension of my family and have worked their tails off,” says Warren. “Without them and the support of my mom, dad and husband, I couldn’t have pulled this thing off. It was important for me to put my family first while achieving my dream. That’s why we are only open Monday through Friday from 11 to 3. I get a lot of requests to extend my hours, but I will only make that move if I can sustain the time I currently have to spend with my boys at home.”
A great jam session in the rock ‘n’ roll world consists of various artists shooting from the hip, creating improvisational masterpieces in the moment that can never truly be recreated. Luckily Warren has recipes for her culinary jam sessions that will allow her diners to relive those moments time and time again. If her kitchen serves as her studio, then her sandwiches are the tracks on her album and she plans to keep releasing hits while she jams to the beat.
“I was never given an instrument growing up,” Warren says. “My food is my instrument and my goal is to rock the mouths of every customer that walks through my door while showing them that jams and jellies not just for biscuits and peanut butter sandwiches. They are a condiment like none other.”
Jamwich. 510 Broad Street, Rome. Call and order pick-up at 706-314-9544 or check out the menu at www.getjamwiched.com