HOWLAND - They say a house is only as solid as its foundation.
The same could be said for a sandwich.
No matter what goes in between the slices, a bland bread or a soggy roll will ruin the dining experience.
One would be hard-pressed to find a better foundation for the perfect sandwich than Great Harvest Bread Co.
I wasn't the only Trumbull County resident who used a trip to Boardman as an excuse to swing by Great Harvest's store on Market Street and bring home some goodies.
Laura Cuttica, who bought the Boardman location about two-and-a-half years ago with her husband, Andrew, said people regularly told her that they needed to open a store in Howland.
GREAT HARVEST BREAD CO.
8024 E. Market St., Howland 330-609-8500
HOURS: 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday.
CUISINE: Baked goods, sandwiches and soups
PRICES: Sandwiches are priced around $5 and loaves of bread generally range between $3.50 and $6.50.
CREDIT CARDS: All major credit cards accepted.
RESERVATIONS: Not necessary for dining in, but customers can call to reserve loaves of bread, which frequently sell out.
HANDICAP ACCESSIBILITY: Yes
They checked out several locations before picking a location on East Market Street along one of the township's major commercial thoroughfares.
''We love the space,'' she said. ''It's so big.''
It also allowed the Cutticas to do something that they can't in Boardman - serve breakfast and lunch. The menu is simple but satisfying with about seven sandwiches and two soups available daily.
And it's a menu where the bread remains the star.
Unlike many chicken salads where the meat can be lost in a host of other ingredients, The Louisville chicken salad ($4.50) is dominated by big chunks of white and dark meat covered in a seasoned mayonnaise dressing.
The unadorned salad allows it to be paired with an assortment of savory and sweet breads. It was hearty and filling between two thick slices of pumpernickel rye, and Cuttica said customers who like fruit and/or nuts in their chicken salad often have it on something like Great Harvest's cherry walnut bread.
Tuna salad and a California cobb with avocado, bacon and turkey breast also are available along with a few cold cuts option and a tradition peanut butter and jelly. Most of the sandwiches, served with chips, are priced around $5.
Diners can add a bowl of soup to a lunch order for $2.75, and both the vegetable beef and the chicken and dumpling that were available on our visit took the chill out of a cold winter day.
The Howland location has several tables as well as corner with overstuffed furniture where guests can settle in with latte or a mocha. But Great Harvest has just as much appeal to the customer who wants to dash in, pick a bread or sweet from that day's selection and create their own Dagwood-sized sandwich at home.
A monthly schedule is available at the counter so customers can find out in advance what will be in stock (it's also supposed to be online at www.greatharvesthowland.com, but the December lineup still was on the Web site at the start of February).
Cuttica said the savory breads have been more popular than the sweet breads at the Howland location. We recently devoured a loaf of the Cheddar Garlic, which didn't need anything on it to be enticing.
But the favorite in the Gray household is the cinnamon swirl ($5.50), which conjures up the image of a ribbon of cinnamon and sugar running through the loaf. Great Harvest's band of cinnamon and sugar is more like a rope than a ribbon. Slather it with some soft unsalted butter, and it's breakfast heaven.
There's also large, chewy cookies, scones and assorted bar cookies. And while most of the baked goods are made in Boardman and delivered daily to the Howland store, the Trumbull location prepares several gluten-free breads, scones and cookies for customers with wheat allergies.