Shirley Eat More Sunshine, located at 22A College Ave., is a new addition to the slew of eateries around Davis Square, selling sandwiches, baked goods and drinks.
Named after the owner’s grandmother, this sandwich spot took over the space that The Oat Shop previously occupied, and is open on weekdays 11 a.m.–2 p.m. and weekends 10 a.m.–2 p.m.
The owner, Katherine Bayle, spoke to the Daily over the phone. She stated that the store opened in August 2022.
“[Shirley Eat More Sunshine] sells breads, sandwiches, baked goods [and] fun drinks,” Bayle said. “That’s the business model.”
Previously, she was selling these same goods out of a pop-up space in Bow Market, and before that she had run pop-up dinner series out of various restaurants in the Boston area.
“I did a dinner series in Brookline at Cobble. … I called it La Grande Aioli. It was a whole dinner [based] around aioli,” Bayle said. “I did dinners at Bondir — which is now called Judy’s Bay — called Smorgasbord Sunday. I [also] did a pop-up at Field & Vine, where I had worked previously, and that was all bread stuff.”
Bayle is originally from New England but moved to the West Coast at age 19. There, she gained experience working various positions in kitchens, including as a chef and baker.
A few years ago, she decided to move back to Boston. With little professional experience here, she used the pop-up restaurant business model as a way to get acquainted with the food scene of Boston.
“I grew up in Boston, but I was never a professional cook here; I left when I was 19, so I’m still understanding what people want to eat here and what they’re into,” Bayle said. “The pop-ups were [about understanding] what people are interested in, and getting to understand what food is around here, and building my relationships with local providers and farmers and figuring out what this area is about.”
At Shirley Eat More Sunshine, this means a menu including flavor profiles that cater to a wide range of tastes.
“Some people are really sweet people, some people are really balanced people [and] some people are like kick-me-in-the-face-with-acid people,” Bayle said. “Even though my menu is really small, I try to have something for everybody, even though there’s only a handful of sandwiches on there.”
The menu is one of the distinguishing features of the sandwich shop. Unlike other sandwich places, the menu here changes at Bayle’s whim, so customers have a unique experience with every visit. The flavors are also seasonal and balanced to suit everyone.
The other unique aspect of the shop is the fresh bread. Bayle bakes all of the bread from scratch, as well as baked goods on the weekends.
“Once I learned how to make bread, I wanted to integrate it into whatever I was doing,” she said.
In fact, Bayle runs nearly the entire shop by herself; she bakes the breads, prepares the sandwich fillings, curates the menu and manages the logistics of owning a business. On the weekends when it tends to get busier, someone comes in to help man the register, and Bayle eventually plans to hire more employees.
“As the business grows and develops, I can bring more people on,” Bayle said. “Because I’ve worked as a chef and as a baker, in the kitchen I know how to do everything.”
The space itself is relatively small and takeout only.
On the walls hang some local decor Bayle acquired from farmers markets, friends and the internet. Notably, there is a preserved baguette fashioned into a light beside the mural of the Shirley Eat More Sunshine logo and a photo of Bayle and her grandmother, Shirley.
The kitchen is the heart of the shop, where Bayle assembles each order. On the Tuesday that I visited, the menu included tomato soup among a plethora of grilled cheeses to compliment the frigid weather. There was Swedish meatball grilled cheese, a “Disco” grilled cheese with pickled veggies, a Camembert apple honey grilled cheese and a half sandwich and tomato soup combo.
With a fixed store space, Bayle has been able to adopt a more stable work schedule.
“I’ve spent most of my career working during the day or late at night or really early in the morning,” she said. “Now that I have my own spot, I have more normal hours.”
For Bayle, this is the life she has dreamt of.
“When I [was] a cook, everybody was like, ‘Someday I want to retire and have a sandwich shop.’ So I’m living the dream [that] me and a lot of other cooks [have had since] we were young,” Bayle said.