The Corner: Take It Away

by Charlottesville29

Take it Away

Photo by Ali Hornung.

Note: This post is part of our guest series, The Corner, by digital media students at The University of Virginia. Today’s student contributor is Ali Hornung.

The Background

For more than 20 years, Tom Bowe has been committed to the art of a quality sandwich.  Raised in a food loving family in Williamsburg, Bowe began his career in retail before realizing that his real passion was for food, and deciding to open a sandwich joint.  After hunting for the perfect location, Bowe concluded that UVa’s The Corner had everything he wanted.  There, he thought, students would venture away from dining halls and eat all day, rather than being restrained by the business eating pattern.

He opened Take it Away in 1992, and, from the start, he knew the location was right. The student energy was striking, he found, as they filled tables and even the sidewalk ground when seats were unavailable. But what he loves most is when students return to Charlottesville after venturing into the real world, and make a point of coming to Take it Away. Bowe’s regulars visit so often that he knows many on a first name basis.  One of his greatest satisfactions is connecting with familiar faces returning to their alma mater and savoring a sandwich.

The Experience

Take it Away is all business.  Walk in, head to the counter, and a server awaits your order.  As soon as you’ve uttered it, it’s passed back to the kitchen, and minutes later, your name is called.  If you’re quick, you might be able to resist the array of impulse-buys that surround you.  Hesitate for even a moment, and you may succumb to the gourmet chips, chocolates, cookies, and more.

But, the real attractions are the sandwiches — in part because of the healthy portions and in part because of the quality of ingredients, over which Bowe says he is “unwilling to compromise.”  From arugula, to sprouts, to roasted tomatoes imported from Italy, to fresh baked bread, there are all the makings of a stellar sandwich.  But, all serious Take it Away customers know that there is only one real star of the show: House Dressing, which every Take it Away regular asks for on their sandwich.  Bowe is well aware of the importance of the condiment to his business’s success. “The name of the business is Take It Away,” he says, “but it really should be House Dressing.”

So, what’s in it?  Bowe is hesitant to reveal the recipe, but describes it generally as “a blend of herbs, spices and whole grain mustard.” Whatever it is, Bowe suggests it on any sandwich. “It’s just plain yummy!”

What to Order

What should you order? Students, Bowe said, often keep their order short and sweet, with just roasted turkey with the House Dressing. Personally, I’d suggest the roast beef, roasted tomatoes, arugula and House Dressing on French bread.  But, ask the guy who has run the place for more than 20 years, and he doesn’t hesitate. Get the Saturday special, he says. Ham, cucumbers, and house dressing on pumpernickel bread.  Whatver you order, just don’t forget that dressing.