Fried Baloney Sandwiches at Tony’s in Gastonia

Tom Hanchett, 2010

friedbaloney
“Fried baloney sandwiches? Everybody who lived on the mill villages ate those,” laughs Bob Brown.  “Mama would buy a pound of baloney and you’d slice it yourself.  Country ham, chicken – those were expensive foods.”

Brown grew up in the 1940s in the Majestic textile village in Belmont, one of the dozens of blue-collar towns that dot Gaston County just west of Charlotte.  Today he’s a volunteer at Belmont Historical Society, telling stories of mill village life in the Society’s lovingly restored Yates Abernethy Mill House in downtown Belmont.

Brown’s stories made me hungry, so I headed straight to Tony’s Ice Cream on Franklin Boulevard in the heart of Gastonia. The yellow-brick building with its short-order grill and store-made ice cream seems to have changed nary a lick since it opened in 1947.

Behind the counter is Louis Coletta, whose grandfather started the business.  “He served sandwiches like people fixed at home,” says Coletta.

A thick slice of baloney is fried on a griddle, then slapped onto a hamburger bun.  There’s a savory layer of chili and onions, a secret recipe that Coletta refuses to divulge.

Altogether, it tastes like one of the best hotdogs I remember from when I was little – just sorta flattened out into two dimensions.

“We’ve all got these things we enjoyed as kids,” agrees Louis Coletta.  “This is tradition.  This is the South.”

Tony’s Ice Cream Co.
Hours: Monday – Saturday 7am – 10pm
Sunday 10am – 10pm
604 East Franklin Boulevard (US 29)
Gastonia, NC  28054
(704) 853-0018

foodheader
Center City & nearby
Carolina apple cider
Indian street food
Greens from South Carolina
Upstate NY Italian sausage
Swiss-German bakery
Blackberry memories of Brooklyn
Puerto Rican kabobs
South Boulevard, South Tryon & southward
Mexico meets Greece – holiday treats
Cuban box pig
Snack foods from India
SC meets Vietnam @ Lyly’s
El Rinconcito — El Salvador
Arepas Grill — Venezuela
Indian sweets for Diwali
Colombian soup
Korean at China Wing
Indian food in south Charlotte
Mexican take-out
Laurita Tamaleria — Mexican tamales
Fort Mill — real Chinese
Independence Boulevard, Monroe Road & environs
Taste Nigeria in east Charlotte
Korean BBQ
Brazilian bakery
Secret Greek grocery
Colombian BBQ & snacks
Detroit hot dogs
New York bagels
Halal Latino
Haiti on Monroe Road
Russian-Turkish Grocery
Iran Kabobs in Matthews
Ramen in Matthews
Peruvian comfort food

Central Av, Albemarle Road & vicinity
Family-style Ethiopian
Dominican street food
Jamaican black cake
Somali stew and sides
Schawarma from Jerusalem
Oriental buns
Greek pastry at Central Coffee
Bosnian sausages
‘Tis the Season for Champurrado
Latino bakery feeds a region
Taste Monterrey, Mexico
Tamales in Plaza Midwood
One restaurant, three Latino traditions

North Tryon, UNCC area & northward
Asian Moon Cakes
Mexican carnitas
Beef on Weck from Buffalo
Indo-Chinese
Dominican fruit shakes, pressed subs
Mexican ice cream
Louisiana Viet crawfish
Salvadoran comfort food
NYC pastries – Lake Norman
Westward
The Patio at Our Lady of Guadalupe
NC fish camps
Fried baloney
Grits & cornmeal
El Tamarindo
Laos in Kings Mountain