If you’ve never heard of Maid-Rites, let us introduce you to this famous little sandwich that hails from Greenville, Ohio.
This little slightly sweet loose-meat sandwich — best described as kind of like a Sloppy Joe minus the sauce — has a bit of a cult following.
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People will drive crazy distances for one. There are copycat recipes all over Pinterest. Here’s the story behind the Maid-Rite:
The Maid-Rite Sandwich Shoppe is a destination diner. It’s a tiny little building covered in gum. Yes, it’s really covered in gum. It’s long been a tradition that diners would affix chewed-up gum to its walls. The diner opened in Greenville in 1934 and is famous for its sandwiches and shakes. Just fyi, it also serves ice cream and beer.
"It's such a well-known novelty here in Darke County,” said Matt Staugler, the executive director of the Darke County Visitors Bureau.
The meat for the Maid-Rite sandwich isn't fried in its own grease. "It's steamed ground beef with a seasoning put over it," said Mark Koontz, one of the members of the family that's owned and operated restaurant since it opened more than 80 years ago.
What is its secret ingredient? "A lot of love and family dedication," said Koontz, who added that he's been around that restaurant "ever since I was little."
The sandwich comes with your choice of mustard, pickle and onion, on a bun, for $2.05. Add a slice of cheese and the price is $2.30. If you’re daring try the Big Jim, which adds ham.
Just as intriguing as its loose meat sandwich is the outside of the Maid-Rite building. It's rather nondescript except for the fact that diners stick their chewing gum on the wall.
“One of the most unique eateries around, the Maid Rite lures hungry visitors from hundreds of miles away just to taste the legendary sandwich made just right in a modest shoppe located in the little rural Southwest Ohio towne of Greenville. If any one place can reflect the city’s heart and soul, it is this miniscule eatery with a big attraction,” according to OhioTraveler.com.
In 2016, Mental_Floss came out with a list of “The Best Burger in All 50 States,” and Ohio’s winner? The Maid-Rite. Even thought it technically isn’t a burger.
"Many Ohioans know and love Swensons in Cleveland (including Akron native LeBron James), but few have heard of hidden gem Maid-Rite in Greenville. Established in 1934, Maid-Rite’s loose-meat burgers have a cult following among those in on the tasty secret, with many driving hours out of the way to get their fill of delicious Maid-Rite and Cheese-Rite sandwiches."
Want to go?
WHAT: The Maid-Rite Sandwich Shoppe
WHERE: 125 N. Broadway St., Greenville OH
HOURS: 10 a.m.-10 p.m. Monday-Thursday; 10 a.m.-11 p.m. Friday-Saturday; 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Sunday