Before coronavirus, Columbia Room beverage manager Paul Taylor had been looking at spaces for a hybrid sandwich shop and cocktail bar. Now, he’s serving up subs a little sooner than expected with a “Get a Hero Be a Hero” pop-up run out of the Shaw cocktail bar. For every sandwich sold, one will be donated to DC-area hospital workers and first responders.
For Taylor, the mission is personal: his sister is a nurse and lieutenant in the Navy who’s working on the USNS Comfort stationed in New York City. “She gets the same food every day and she’s very isolated and there’s no opportunity for her to cook, and she loves to cook as well,” he says. “I wanted to do something that would help people on the frontlines who are working 12, 14 hour days, to just get a second to step away and get a bite to eat of something that’s thoughtful and nourishes them.”
Get a Hero Be a Hero is working with chef Erik Bruner-Yang‘s “Power of 10” initiative, which aims to feed the community while creating restaurant jobs. Beyond feeding local hospital workers, Taylor hopes his sandwich business will allow Columbia Room to start hiring back some employees.
To start, the menu includes just two sandwiches: a mortadella-and- mozzarella Italian sub called the “Mort & Mootz” ($13) and a roasted-cauliflower banh mi riff dubbed “Caul Me Maybe” ($12). You can order any of Columbia Room’s cocktails along with them for pickup or delivery.
Taylor doesn’t just want you to eat a sandwich though. He wants you have an entire sandwich-eating experience. That’s why he’s paired each menu item with a suggested song, linked to on the pop-up’s website. The Mort & Mootz is best enjoyed alongside Dean Martin’s “Return to Me,” while “Caul Me Maybe” is obviously paired with the Carly Rae Jepson hit.
Businesses can also arrange to have a “virtual office party” where sandwiches are delivered to an entire team and then Taylor will personally get on a Zoom call to chat sandwiches, music, and more.
“Basically, we would hang out for a while,” he says. “Hopefully that’s interesting enough for people.”