Downtown Port Townsend Sandwich King leaving
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Charlie Bermant/Peninsula Daily News
Rich Coletta has been dishing up gyros and falafels in Port Townsend since 2006.

By Charlie Bermant
Peninsula Daily News

PORT TOWNSEND — The Sandwich King is abdicating.

“I'm not happy about it,” said Rich Coletta, who has owned and operated a gyro and falafel stand, the Sandwich King, on Washington Street since 2006.

“But you need to make decisions and move forward,” he said.

“I'm not going to just give up and lie down.”

As part of a familiar refrain, Coletta is closing down for economic reasons.

“I have a good sense of humor, but it's hard to be positive in the face of what's going on,” he said.

“With this economy, people aren't eating out as much,” Coletta said. “And if it's cold, people don't want to eat outside.”

He said the stand has never earned a significant profit and has only paid for expenses, forcing Coletta into arrears so far that he is losing his house.

“If you ask me if I ever was profitable, the answer is 'not enough,” he said.

“This is a nice, friendly small town, but was probably too small for what I wanted to do.”

Coletta isn't sure how long the stand at 2427 Washington St. will stay open and has no solid shutdown date, but guesses it will be in the next two weeks.

He also is at the mercy of the weather: Once the pipes freeze, the stand has no access to water.

After the closure, Coletta plans to head to Portland, Ore., “which has a larger food card culture,” he said.

Coletta, 59, began selling Greek food at the Port Townsend Farmers Market in 2004 and went on his own two years later when he purchased the food cart from Dos Okies barbecue (which is now across the street from Coletta's stand).

Coletta likes serving Greek food because it's simple and unique. He has only five items on the menu.

“This isn't a normal food,” he said.

“It's not burgers or pizza or tacos because it's very unusual. I've gotten a lot of good feedback about my food — people like it a lot.”

As he ends his final season, Coletta said he will miss Port Townsend.

“I don't have much business, but I need to get back to the food,” he said, cutting an interview short.

“Making gyros is like having a 2-year-old.”



Jefferson County Reporter Charlie Bermant can be reached at 360-385-2335 or at charlie.bermant@peninsuladailynews.com.

Last modified: November 05. 2012 10:57PM
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