Valhalla to Bring Sandwich Heaven to Mercer Island

June 1, 2023 | by Naomi Tomky

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All photos courtesy Valhalla Sandwiches

Chipotle mac salad and Thanksgetting sandwiches will soon be on the menu for Mercer Island lunches. After six years serving beloved – and famously messy – sandwiches, like the Bad Lieutenant and El Duderino, in Seattle’s Greenwood neighborhood, Valhalla Sandwiches will open its second location this summer in the former Fave Kitchens space.

“We are bursting at the seams,” says owner Ryan O’Toole. After three years of looking, he zeroed in on the Town Center location as just what he needed to expand, including plenty of room for their catering kitchen. Mercer Island’s central location appealed for convenience for that arm of the business, and the community reminded him of what worked well for them at the first shop. Casual, everyday lunches, groups, and families make up the bulk of the Greenwood shop’s business, and he saw a similar audience on the island. “I just feel like that’s one big neighborhood there,” he says of Mercer Island.

The menu, at least at first, will remain the same as at the Greenwood shop. O’Toole says as he gets to know islanders and see what they need, he may add or adjust, but for now, he plans to stick with the hearty, fun selection of original sandwiches that got him to this point.

“I like to touch on some traditional stuff,” he explains, “but they’re kind of their own thing.” That means you won’t find a Philly cheesesteak or an Italian grinder, but you might find one of his inventions that resemble it, like the steak beastie, with carne asada, hot cherry peppers, pickled onions, and provolone. The grilled PB&J proves popular with the kids, as do the tater tots from the selection of side dishes.

The set-up, with options for ordering online or at the counter, and plenty of indoor and outdoor seating, will also be similar to the original shop. He’s planning to do a little sprucing up to the space – new countertops and painting – but overall, the layout won’t change from previous tenants. O’Toole acknowledges the high turnover rate in that particular spot – since the beginning of 2022, it went from Mo’s Pizza to Fave Kitchens to Sabor de Mexico, and now to Valhalla – but is confident in his concept and has the experience to back it up.

O’Toole first served his signature sandwiches from a truck, starting in 2013. He had worked in restaurants, and then in food distribution, and felt confident in his understanding of the industry. The truck found enthusiastic audiences around town, especially near the Amazon offices, but eventually, he wanted to settle down. “I hate fixing trucks,” he laughs. “I was so glad to get rid of it.” He sold the truck to one of his employees and dove fully into the bricks-and-mortar.

Though he lives not far from the Greenwood spot, he’s looking forward to becoming a part of a new community, serving his friends that live on the island, and reconnecting with some of those early fans of the truck. He says he already heard from some old customers after announcing the Mercer Island opening. “People were pumped!”

Valhalla Sandwiches plans to open at 2630 77th Ave SE #112 in mid-June. Stay tuned to their website,, and Instagram, @valhallasandwiches, for details.