Mehmet and Secil Ozpagda have been sharing New England fare with The Woodlands community through their restaurant, Maine-ly Sandwiches, since March 2018. However, Mehmet Ozpagda said the restaurant faced its greatest hardship on Christmas Eve when Secil, his wife and business partner, died after a two-month battle with cancer at just 40 years old.
“My wife was so healthy—she never even smoked; … we’re marathon runners,” Ozpagda said. “She was diagnosed with lung cancer in October, and just two months later she passed away on Christmas Eve. So now, it’s just me by myself with my two boys—a 4 year old and [a]7 year old. It’s been very hard.”
Originally from Adiyaman, Turkey, Ozpagda said he and his family became accustomed to American culture and picked up the English language overseas as their small hometown was also a military base for the U.S. Army.
“Our kids grew up playing with American kids, and we had been to America several times for marathons in places like New York and Boston,” Ozpagda said. “We decided to move to America for our boys’ futures because we felt that it was safer and had a better education [system]than our home country.”
AN AMERICAN DREAM
The Ozpagda family moved to the Greater Houston area and became franchise owners of the Maine-ly Sandwiches location on South Shepherd Drive in Houston in March 2016. After two years at that location, the family decided to relocate the sandwich shop to The Woodlands last March.
“That was our American dream: to come here and open our own business,” Ozpagda said. “People are so kind here, and the area is so safe. I’m working hard every day to contribute and give back to this community.”
With three franchise locations in the Greater Houston area, Ozpagda said Maine-ly Sandwiches brings a slice of New England to The Woodlands community. Owned by Maine-native Buddy Charity, the restaurant offers a variety of Italian and specialty sandwiches, fried seafood baskets, soups and salads.
The restaurant’s signature sandwich is its lobster roll—a New England staple made with fresh-steamed lobster served with mayonnaise on a buttered, toasted roll.
“Our best-seller is definitely our lobster roll,” Ozpagda said. “I get here early every day to prep everything and make sure everything is fresh because my customers are the most important thing to me. If the customer is happy, one happy customer equals 10 additional customers.”
In addition to the lobster roll, Ozpagda said Maine-ly Sandwiches is also known for its crab rolls, fried clams, clam strip rolls, New England Clam Chowda and lobster bisque, all of which are offered on a daily basis. The restaurant also offers a different non-seafood soup of the day special throughout
Maine-ly Sandwiches also offers beer and wine and specializes in homemade whoopie pies for dessert, which can be ordered individually, by the dozen or as a cake for special occasions.
While Ozpagda said he works daily to give the best to his patrons, he said The Woodlands community and neighboring businesses have shown his family a tremendous outpouring of support during their time of need.
“I appreciate all of our neighbors here, especially during this difficult time. I don’t know how to put into words how appreciative I am—I’ve never seen anything like this,” Ozpagda said.
7 Switchbud Place, Ste. 194, The Woodlands
Hours: Mon.-Sat. 10 a.m.-9 p.m., Sun. 11 a.m.-8 p.m.