Maid-Rite Sandwich Shoppe turns 90: What to know about its iconic $2.80 sandwiches

The Maid-Rite Sandwich Shoppe, a popular drive-in in Greenville, is celebrating its 90th birthday operating under the same family.

Louise Maher bought the business, located at 125 N. Broadway, for $500 when she was just 20 years old back on May 25, 1934.

All the time that she owned it, she kept the recipe for her famous Maid-Rite sandwiches a secret. They have been described as “on the order of a hamburger, but better meat.” The beef was “cooked loose” rather than being shaped into patties and had a special blend of seasonings.

Some call it a Sloppy Joe minus the sauce.

Although she never gave up the recipe, when interviewed in 1982, she gave a hint.

“We use hindquarters and grind our own meat. That’s half the secret of the recipe,” she said.

In a 2018 interview, Mark Koontz, a member of the family that has owned Maid-Rite since 1934, was also asked about the secret ingredients.

“A lot of love and family dedication,” he said.

In a 1984 Dayton Daily News article covering the 50th anniversary of the business, one customer claimed the secret ingredient was a touch of Tabasco sauce. Another said it was beer. A third simply said, “It’s magic.”

The sandwiches are served with mustard, onion, pickles and sometimes cheese, but never ketchup, which is considered a no-no by purists.

When the business was first opened by Maher in 1934, the sandwiches were much larger and cost just 10 cents. The sandwiches are still a bargain but now will cost you $2.80.

On weekend nights, traffic at the drive-thru window sometimes backed up down the block.

The Gum-Wall

The outside of the Maid-Rite building has walls covered in chewing gum.

According to the Maid-Rite website, the family simply states, “We don’t really know why the gum started but it’s here to stay.”

Previous owners

Maid-Rite made it’s first appearance in Greenville in 1930 when Harry Warren built and opened the business on North Broadway.

Warren owned the shop for 13 months before selling it to Charlie Norris.

In 1934, Norris sold it to Arcadius Maher, Louise’s father, who then sold it to her.

The original building was made out of wood and at some point was sold and moved. The current building was constructed in 1942.

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