"My father started the business 30 years ago in Columbia - Oakland Mills," says John Bell, owner of Bell's Deli. "We started as a butcher shop, but as everyone got more and more busy and didn't have enough time to regularly prepare meals, we began doing sandwiches and carryout items."
Bell's Deli moved 18 years ago to its current location, off U.S. 40 in Elliott City, and offers a variety of lunch meat and submarine sandwiches. Whether you're looking for a 6-inch sub or one that's a foot long, you have several choices - such as chicken parmesan, New York strip steak, Italian meatball, Texas barbecue pork, chicken cheese steak and Italian cold cut.
But there's a modern twist to the deli as well - grilled chicken, ham and cheese with turkey bacon, ribeye steak and vegetable wrap sandwiches.
Bell's also offers sandwich specialties, including lemon-pepper chicken, teriyaki chicken, and hot roast beef and cheddar cheese.. Other sandwiches include crab cake, grilled cheese with bacon, turkey club, chicken cordon bleu and flounder.
If a burger is what you're looking for, consider Bell's "Plain Ole" burger, bacon cheese burger, mushroom Swiss burger or bleu cheese burger in either 6-, 8- or 10-ounce sizes. Bell's Mega Burger is 10 ounces comes with ham, bacon and cheese.
In addition to lunch meats such as honey turkey, corned beef, pastrami and ham, Bell's also offers salads, including chicken Caesar and steak salads. "One of our signature items is our Western Salad, which is a garden salad with grilled chicken in a teriyaki barbecue sauce," Bell said.
Bell's also offers more substantial fare, such as filet mignon or New York strip steaks, grilled chicken breast, chicken parmesan, seafood platter, boneless prime rib and Maryland crab cake main entrees.
If you're thinking about takeout for an event - that Sunday football game when everyone heads over to your place - then maybe you're looking for Bell's 3- or 5-foot sub, baby-back ribs or buffalo wings in quantities of five through 100. "Wings are a specialty of ours - a lot of our customers come in just for the wings," Bell said. "It picks up during football season - especially with the Ravens having won the Super Bowl."
After running a deli for so many years, Bell finds a way to keep it interesting. "When we're on vacation, we're always looking out for new things to add. We'll take a couple of days just to create new menu items," he said.
And what does he like best about running a deli? "Over the years, we've gotten to know some of our customers on a first-name basis," he said. "It's more like a friendship than a business."
Where: 9339 Baltimore National Pike, Ellicott City; 410-465-8030.
Prices: $4.25 to $16.95
Hours: 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Wednesday; 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Thursday through Saturday; noon to 8 p.m. Sundays.
Credit cards: Visa, MasterCard and Discover