The sandwiches Mike Howell will miss most are the Birds the Word, packed with turkey and havarti with a cranberry reduction, and the Rueben, swimming with house-made Thousand Island …
The sandwiches Mike Howell will miss most are the Birds the Word, packed with turkey and havarti with a cranberry reduction, and the Rueben, swimming with house-made Thousand Island dressing.
“I have them every other day,” he said.
But time is winding down to get the last taste of Howell’s delicious sandwiches. By Sept. 15, he’ll officially close the doors of Howell’s Sandwich Company in order to pursue river guiding full time.
It seems like an unusual switch for a restauranteur, but Howell claims, “anyone who knows me long enough knows this is the most logical step.”
After years managing restaurants, he opened Howell’s Sandwich Company on Port Townsend’s Water Street four years ago.
Since then, they survived a freak incident in 2018 when king tides coupled with extreme wind and stormy conditions drenched the interior of the waterfront restaurant in 650 gallons of water.
Then came 2020 — and a temporary closure early on due to COVID — before quick planning opened the doors once more on April 20 of last year.
Finishing strong, Howell’s will be open starting at 11 a.m. Wednesday through Sunday, serving “craft beer and damn good sandwiches” until they sell out. (In other words, first-come, first-served.)
The shop, located at 929 Water St. in Port Townsend, will remain a food establishment. Howell wasn’t at liberty to say too much, but said the new owners are young locals undertaking their first restaurant endeavor. They’ll have a menu Howell is enthusiastic about, but there is only one Howell’s Sandwich Co.
As the countdown to departure begins, Howell is optimistic. People are driving from across the state, some as far as Eugene, Oregon to get one last sammie.
“We’re just really looking forward to seeing everybody,” he said. “We’ve really received a lot of nice words.”
He marveled at the relationships he’s built in the community in just four years, bonding with the common interest in simple good food.
While Howell has been doing some river guiding in conjunction with making sandwiches for a while now, the pandemic put a lot of things in perspective for him. When looking down the mayo knife at a career in the kitchen, it was ultimately the great outdoors that won out. Guiding seems to fit best with how he wants to live his life.
He’s looking at renting a small shop on a month-to-month basis to build exposure for his newest endeavor. And he’ll be sticking around for the foreseeable future, he added.
He’s not really leaving, it seems, but just taking another way home.
“No tears,” he said. “Just bittersweet.”