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Sully’s Steamers perfects steamed bagel sandwich

Sully’s Steamers boasts a massive, original menu of mouth-watering steamed bagel sandwiches that are unique to the Greenville area. Photo: Amanda Ross

“Steamenstein.” “Bob Loblaw.” “McSteamy.”

What are these seemingly nonsensical words, you ask? They may sound like names of characters from some bizarre work of fiction, but actually they’re three of the more than 90 uniquely named sandwiches from a unique restaurant, Sully’s Steamers, located at 6 E. Washington St. in downtown Greenville.

Now, the word sandwich doesn’t quite do the food offered at Sully’s justice, because these sandwiches are special. For starters, every sandwich at Sully’s is actually made with a bagel as the base, instead of bread. Then the sandwich is piled high with layers of meat, cheese, lettuce, tomato, avocado and other toppings. While almost every sandwich combination is already on the menu, customers are free to build their own bagel sandwich as well.

And with 11 different sections (the majority of the menu is grouped under different meat options, like turkey, roast beef, ham and chicken) and numerous options for breakfast, lunch and dinner, Sully’s menu doesn’t lack variety.

Prices start as low as $2.95 for a simple bagel and cream cheese of your choice, while other options, like “The Pleasantburger,” a massive sandwich that includes roast beef, Swiss cheese, chive spread, onions and spicy mustard, cost around $7.

“[The menu] is really all over the place. You can get as healthy as you want with the veggies or chicken salad, but then there’s an entire section dedicated to bacon. There’s really something for everyone,” said Robert “Sully” Sullivan, owner of Sully’s Steamers.

But it isn’t the bagels, freshly made cream cheeses or even the humongous menu that makes Sully’s different. A couple of monstrous silver machines sitting behind the counter are what really sets Sully’s apart, piping steam into the bagels and making the perfect sandwich.

“[The steamers] have been around forever. They’re really old pieces of junk,” Sullivan said. “But they’re the only thing that gets the bagel just right. The steamers get it soft and easy to eat, not hard and crusty. Also, by melting all the cheeses, meats and cream cheeses, they make sure every bit of the sandwich has all the flavors.”

Steaming bagels, an uncommon process that requires blasting the bagel with steam for several minutes, was first introduced to Sullivan at a deli where he worked during college. Ever since, the concept of steaming bagels and owning his own restaurant stuck in the back of Sullivan’s mind. But it wasn’t until just a few years ago, when his best friend opened his own steamed bagel shop in Idaho that Sullivan decided to try to turn his college dream into a reality.

“I’ve never done food service before, but I always thought that I would enjoy it,” he said. “I knew I loved this product, and everyone I knew loved this product. There was nothing like this even remotely close to this area. I hoped it would translate to this area, and so far it has.”

Sullivan opened Sully’s Steamers just seven months ago.

“I waited a long time for the perfect location to open, and as soon as I saw this place open, I knew it was perfect,” he said.

Sully’s Steamers is open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 7 a.m. to 3 a.m. Friday through Saturday and 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Sunday.

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Sully’s Steamers perfects steamed bagel sandwich