FOOD

Sandwich Man: McGinnis’ Grill Owner Has His Sights Set on Expansion

Columbus restaurant veteran John McGinnis aims to add a second food truck and a brick-and-mortar location for his savory sandwiches.

Bailey Trask
John McGinnis, with Cuban and caprese sandwiches from his McGinnis’ Grill food truck.

After 16 years working at a diverse range of classic Columbus restaurants, from Plank’s Bier Garten to Rigsby’s Kitchen, John McGinnis decided it was time to do his own thing. The owner of McGinnis’ Grill, a food truck featuring craft sandwiches, launched his business in September of 2021 and has been steadily growing his customer base ever since.

Although the truck is available for events, it sticks mostly to Clintonville, where McGinnis grew up and currently resides, operating at regular hours outside of Savor Pint on Indianola Avenue.

With a sole focus on grilled sandwiches, McGinnis’ Grill boasts a simple menu of six handhelds, a few sides and a special of the day. The inspiration behind his recipes? “If I can do it and I like it, that’s the motivation for putting it on the menu,” he says.

The grill is affordable. Each sandwich (ranging from $12 to $13) comes with a different style of bread and a healthy portion of sides, such as handmade potato salad, pesto pasta salad or kettle chips. The light and creamy pasta salad is a winner, with whole pieces of red onion and crispy green peppers adding a crunch to the pesto-tossed rotini. There is also a kids’ grilled cheese with chips for $6.

The caprese ($12) may just be the perfect sandwich. Fresh pesto and a splash of balsamic vinegar join mozzarella, grilled red onion, tomato and a dash of arugula together in a compact and complementary combination on buttery, grilled Italian bread. Each bite is better than the next, and all the ingredients bring out the flavor of the sandwich’s star: the tomato.

The brisket melt ($13) is the truck’s best seller, and for good reason. The dense sandwich is like a deeply seasoned brisket-forward grilled cheese, accompanied by grilled red onions and a tad too little horseradish aioli.

Meanwhile, the Cuban ($13)—a pressed hoagie bun with roasted pork, grilled ham, Swiss cheese, a tangy pickle and a sizable slather of mustard—has all the right ingredients for the classic sandwich but comes across a little too salty and a bit greasy.

A Cuban sandwich from McGinnis’ Grill food truck

McGinnis, who is currently looking for a second food truck, aspires to open a brick-and-mortar location of McGinnis’ Grill. His goal is to offer full service and a bar, and to expand the menu beyond sandwiches. In the meantime, he’s committed to his team. “Doing things like giving your staff a free meal, having reasonable hours and being closed on a holiday is not that hard to do,” he says. “Those are the standards for my company. If I start off by doing the right things for my people, it will be easier to keep those standards as I grow.” 

McGinnis’ Grill

Food Truck, 614-530-5219,

mcginnisgrill.com

This story is from the October 2022 issue of Columbus Monthly.