Photo by Seth Applebaum, courtesy of Benny’s Brown Bag
The new sandwich shop slings sumptuous handhelds from a historic location — along with niche snacks, craft beer, and old-school cartoons.
The little house on the corner across from Peekskill High School has been a deli for more than four decades. Chef Phil Dixon fondly remembers making lunch runs for underclassmen after PHS barred anyone but seniors from leaving campus for meals. Now he’s the one making the menu.
Owners Vinny Cox and Betty Warshaw purchased the space in May 2022 after deciding they both needed a career change — Warshaw, a Mount Kisco native, was looking to move from podcasting into the hospitality industry, while Cox was ready to move on from a successful but ultimately sandwich-light marketing career. First-time business owners, they consulted some of Peekskill’s established restaurateurs, including Dixon, a fixture in the kitchens of local big names like Birdsall and Gleason’s for more than 10 years.
“We kept saying, ‘We should find somebody like Phil. We need somebody like Phil,’” Warshaw says. “‘Why don’t we just get Phil?’” Spoiler: They got Phil.
Now a full partner, Dixon has crafted an opening menu that’s both short enough for the small team to manage and broad enough to appeal to a wide swath of palates, featuring elevated takes on classics like southern and Thai fried chicken sandwiches, hot and cold roast beef, turkey and ham subs, tuna and chicken salad, and even a couple vegan options. Also included are rotating specials like patty melts and grilled cheeses, summer salads, and a few homemade sweet finishes.
All the ingredients are brought in fresh daily and sourced locally whenever possible: deli meats from Thumann’s Inc. (a family-owned Jersey staple); wedges, rolls, challah, and ciabatta from Ossining Bakery and Rockland Bakery across the river; pickles from the Peekskill Farmers’ Market; and even craft beer and kombucha from local brewers.
The “soft” opening went hard, with Warshaw on the register and up to four people working the small kitchen at any moment, frying up chicken to order and assembling Instagram-worthy foot-longs from 11 a.m. until 4 p.m. or ’whenever we sell out’ — still a routine occurrence, despite prepping around 40 to 50 pounds of chicken daily.
So what should you order? It’s kind of a cop-out, but we haven’t had a less-than-stellar sandwich yet. The chili crisp turkey and “Prosciutto Paisan” both offer light but perfectly balanced flavors, while the all-beef Jersey hot dogs offer that natural casing snap you just can’t get elsewhere. The Thai fried chicken sandwich has been a top seller, and it’s easy to see why, with its apple, sweet chili slaw, and two massive spiced chicken breasts. The Green Goddess chicken salad BLT has also been a huge hit, which Chef Dixon describes as “my happy place. No notes.”
“It’s super flattering,” says Cox,” because we’re just two schmucks and Phil.”
Guests should expect even more rotating specials as Benny’s shifts from “soft” opening to neighborhood staple, and the team has no dearth of dream sandwiches:
Chef Phil: “Spam sandwich — Hawaiian, maybe Korean — spam is such a blank canvas it’s so much fun to work with. I also want to put a full English breakfast on a sandwich.”
Betty: “I’m secretly trying to make us more of a Jewish deli. House-cured pastrami, smoked salmon. I want to have a latke and put an egg on it!”
Vinny also wants to add breakfast options, but laughs at when they’d have to wake up. “We’re here every day at 6 a.m. prepping for 11 a.m. service.”
Until then, guests will have to simply enjoy some vintage flicks, cartoons, and skate videos on VHS while their gourmet sandwiches are made. Just make sure to come early before your favorites sell out.
Benny’s Brown Bag
1100 Elm St, Peekskill; 914.600.8848