Happy Gillis Cafe and Hangout
Ever heard of the Happy Soupeater? That would be Todd Schulte, who delivers gourmet soups around the metro on the weekends. During the week he is at the stove of the Happy Gillis Cafe and Hangout, a funky little spot in Columbus Park. It used to be a sundries shop and the sign still hangs from the building. It attracts a diverse clientele, those wearing suits and ties as well as those in painter’s pants or ratty jeans. Many get a sandwich to-go, others grab a seat at one of the vintage tables and chairs, still others juggle a sandwich on their laps while sitting on a bright orange velour sofa in the living room-like area.
Breakfast and lunch are served, both with a fairly limited but creative menu. One would think soups would dominate, but there are only one or two daily soups offerings. A few salads are also available, but the sandwiches are the focal point at lunch, deservedly so. Todd uses only fresh, high quality ingredients to ensure the most flavorful combinations. No deli turkey here, only fresh roasted slices of “real” turkey. I had what was obviously a seasonal selection–asparagus and fresh ricotta with arugula pesto and pistachios on crusty ciabatta. Wow. Tasty and pretty to look at. And I felt healthy eating it. My friend had a tuna and white bean sandwich, which sounded better than it was. Nothing wrong with it, just a bit bland. As was the arugula and Israeli couscous salad. It had all the right things going on–apricot, olives, feta, but the dressing didn’t have much flavor. A friend sitting at the next table said her egg salad sandwich was as good as it gets. I can’t wait to go back to try the curried chicken salad which, fortunately, is usually on the menu.
While not all offerings are successful, Happy Gillis is the kind of place you go back to again and again anyway. If you make a wrong choice one time, you can be comforted in knowing that next time you’ll have something you love. The friendly staff truly want you to enjoy your experience and odds are you will.