Meanwhile, his past in pies came back to him in another way. While in Italy, he helped Via Tribunali founder Mike McConnell bring the phenomenally tasty Solea tomatoes to the States. He first discovered the tomatoes and flour while on the line cooking up pizza during his staging stint. Later, he went to the source with McConnell. When Solea first arrived in Seattle in 2009, they were housed in Georgetown. However, it wasn't long before the tomatoes outgrew their allotted space and needed to find a new home within a couple years. This was an omen for McGill, who pounced on the opportunity to open a second deli in the summer of 2014.
"I was drawn to the [Solea] space for years, and seeing the restaurants in the area doing well, and Georgetown taking shape, I wanted to expand my footprint back into Seattle," McGill says. Surprisingly, rent was non-astronomical, and the large space was ideal for his meat-making exploits. He could also finally add a butcher counter.
The opportunity for honesty and sourcing in the meat-curing process appealed to him. With Boar's Head and commodity meat making appearances at "gourmet" sandwich shops, he wanted to turn locally sourced, ethically processed meat into an everyday option. "If I'm going to make a difference in our world through food," he says, "it can't just be by offering bourgeois tasting menus. Every time someone chooses my delis for lunch, they displace that amount of commodity meat, and have a healthier and tastier lunch -- even if it costs a couple dollars more."