September is here, and with the start of autumn comes a New England event that brings guests of all ages and neighborhoods together. The Big E, an iconic fair that takes place annually at the Big E Fairgrounds in West Springfield, Massachusetts, is the place to be for food lovers from states near and far. For over 100 years, dozens of new food items have been introduced to hungry crowds, often ranging from the classic cotton candy to eccentric cuisine such as a burger with a donut bun. The 2018 fair is no exception. Main Street Deli, a local restaurant owned by the Locke family of Agawam, Massachusetts, will be taking one of their hit sandwiches on the road.
Happily married couple, Joanne and Frank Locke Jr, with the help of their son Michael and a cheerful staff, have built a one-of-a-kind business that makes every night at Main Street Deli feel like an evening at the family dinner table. With offerings such as homemade macaroni and cheese, wholesome allergen-free salads, decadent desserts, and wings tossed in over 22 flavors of sauces created by Michael, there’s a meal sure to delight every member of the family who joins Main Street Deli for dinner. Starting in a “postage stamp” location in 2006, the family’s dream grew, and so did their location. In 2009, they transformed a historical 1863 carriage house into a welcoming restaurant. Now, over twelve years later, Main Street Deli cooks up meals and caters just about any event you can think of.
When Joanne first stepped into the carriage house, she saw the future of her beloved business. “I saw it as casual, comfortable, and like walking into my home” she shared. Her vision has developed into reality, with warm lighting, delicious aromas in the air and an ambiance of sitting at an open table of family and friends. The decor in each area of the house blends the antique feel of the 1800s home with a modern day dining room, making each visit a heartfelt experience.
Soon after the end of last year’s fair, Main Street Deli interviewed with Big E officials and are now being welcomed to the Avenue of States for 2018. The Avenue of States is known for its buildings lining a long street representing the New England states. Where else can someone try Maine blueberries, Vermont maple candy, and Massachusetts cider donuts all in one day?
Inside of the Massachusetts state building, fairgoers will find the “Pilgrim”, a Main Street Deli original sandwich. The sandwich is a classic on the Main Street Deli menu, holding a place as one of the first items to be featured on their original menu. As described best by the owners: “The Pilgrim sandwich is a traditional Thanksgiving meal. We will be using real roasted turkey meat, homemade stuffing, cranberry sauce, and gravy in a crusty soft centered ciabatta roll.” While new and different foods are the name of the game at the Big E, astounding portion sizes are just as important. Adapting to this expectation, Main Street Deli will be taking their sandwich from a single serving to a 2-foot long sub. While it can be purchased whole, half sandwiches will also be offered for those saving room!
If that’s not enough to make your mouth water, the restaurant will also be serving several other Massachusetts-native snacks.
Keeping their offerings local, Main Street Deli will be serving drinks from Polar, based out of Worcester. Cape Cod brand chips will be served with Kettle Cuisine of Lynn’s soup. Hanson’s Ocean Spray cranberry sauce can be found on the Pilgrim paired with fresh turkey from Outpost Farm of Holliston. Coupling fresh with local is sure to create a dining experience perfect for not only the Big E, but for a wildly successful business.
The Big E has always played a small part in the business of Main Street Deli. While the Big E is known for food, it’s also known by locals for bringing in crowds in droves, often leading to traffic. Being just one exit away from the Big E has led Main Street Deli to close on weekends during the fair, as it is more difficult to reach the location during the peak fair times. This year, as Joanne said, the Locke family decided “if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em!” The business will not be on the outside parameters of the event, but right on the grounds, allowing faithful customers and newcomers to enjoy a favorite all fair long.
Main Street Deli is all about homegrown taste, and that means cutting no corners. The meats used in their meals are sliced fresh, including corned beef that is made every day. Apples are hand peeled and never from a can when making Cousin Linda’s special apple crisp recipe, and each hot dish is cooked on the spot. When one batch runs out, a new pan hits the oven, sizzling and ready for patrons to enjoy down to the last bite.
The Big E is also known for being the kickoff to the Harvest season, and Main Street Deli will be bringing that same tone to the fair at their booth. As described by the Locke family, “One of my family’s favorite holidays is Thanksgiving. It is a time when Massachusetts’ history, family, and traditional food favorites come together. This theme will be the essence of our booth-from a first Thanksgiving picture design on our banner, to the color scheme of deep burgundy, crimson orange, and golden yellow, to the smell of turkey roasting in the oven, and finally to all the delicious tastes of the season.”
Can’t wait for the Big E to begin to try some of Main Street Deli’s incredible foods? Joanne recommends a few of her favorites, including Mike’s Big Salad, the Turkey Apple, or their Apple Crisp. Main Street Deli is located at 141 Main Street in Agawam, Massachusetts. Don’t forget to stop by the Big E from September 14-30 at the Big E Fairgrounds in West Springfield, Massachusetts, to taste a sandwich Massachusetts residents and neighbors alike are sure to be thankful for.