"Laid back and rock 'n' roll" is how Mike McGuire describes Salvador Deli and Jack Beagles, the two NoDa establishments he manages (Salvador Deli: 3215 N. Davidson St.; Jack Beagles: 3213 N. Davidson St.). The same could be said of him. This former Philadelphian has a no-frills approach to the bar and restaurant industry. He moved to town in 1992 to study finance at UNC Charlotte, putting himself through college by working the food and nightlife scene. He's worked at a smattering of local hotspots, including Bar Charlotte "way back when it was like the only club in town." McGuire calls Charlotte home now, and looks forward to continuing to make his mark.
Creative Loafing: Stuart Sloan, Salvador Deli's former owner, passed away last November. What was the vision you and the owners had for the reopening?
Mike McGuire: We were trying to have something to do with this place before the tragedy, about a month before Stu passed away. The owners live close by. They know the area well, and they saw an opportunity. We wanted to change a couple of things, rearrange it, open up the space a little bit, but we wanted the core principle to be the same: just an easygoing deli. We've got the old menu; for the most part, people are going to be able to come in and get the sandwich they're used to having. My favorite is the Incognito Mosquito, although I haven't had a chance to sit down and enjoy it since we've opened. But we are going to improve on the menu a little bit. One of my specialties is creating recipes, so I'm really looking forward to getting in there and taking out some of the slower movers and putting some other sandwiches on there that hopefully people will love. Stu's memory is still there, though. At Jack Beagles we've got a cheesesteak called the Stugots.
With cheesesteaks on the menu at Jack Beagles, is it safe to say you're showcasing your Philadelphia roots?
There's a lot of Jersey and a lot of Philly on the menu. I'm the kind of person that if I put something on the menu that everybody has, like burgers, I want people to talk about our burgers as some of the best in town. The cheesesteaks we're making beat many I've had in Philadelphia. The only thing is it's hard to get the right kind of bread down here, Italian hoagie rolls. Everybody makes French bread, but a good hoagie roll is hard to find.
Italian hoagie rolls aside, anything you miss about the City of Brotherly Love?
Charlotte's a bit of a strange town in that so many people are new to it. Coming from Philly, which is a real blue-collar, everybody's-been-there-their-whole-lives kind of town, Charlotte's a lot different. If I miss anything, it's that real homegrown vibe. Here, people can be Pittsburgh Steelers fans or Boston Celtics fans, but in Philly, everybody's a Phillies fan. Maybe it might be a little bit of that mob mentality: We do have the only baseball stadium with a jail in it.