A Q&A with Jeff Wagner of Thatsa Wrapp
Jeff Wagner has been in the restaurant business much longer than you might guess from looking at him.
Now in his eighth successful year at his often-bustling downtown Canton eatery Thatsa Wrapp, Wagner’s first food venture downtown was a place called A Centre Place in the McKinley Centre that ran for 17 years, from 1992 to 2008, followed by a year at The Stables on 12th Street NW and almost a year at the 356th Fighter Group.
“After 356th, I was searching for another spot downtown,” Wagner said. “I had a lot of connections here. When I opened Thatsa Wrapp, I kept a lot of the same clientele from A Centre Place and the Stables, so that worked out well. We’ve increased revenue every year for eight years.”
Thatsa Wrapp, at 600 Sixth Street NW, has a menu that’s focused on wraps and jumbo salads, with specials changing frequently, plus more than 50 craft beers, drafts and bottles. Breakfast is offered on Saturday mornings. Ingredients are fresh and plentiful. For instance, a salad might include sirloin steak, grilled asparagus, crumbled blue cheese and a lemon-caper vinaigrette.
A St. Thomas Aquinas High School graduate, Wagner has visible civic pride. “Canton has supported me for a long time, and that’s not something I take lightly.”
Q. Thatsa Wrapp is located on the far edge of downtown, and yet you do very well. What sets you apart?
A. “I think the biggest thing with our food is we do everything here. All of our sauces are made here, the large majority of our salad dressings, all of the desserts. Our sauerkraut, our corned beef, we make here. Our pork is fantastic—it’s slow roasted, seasoned well, and I put a little bit of wood in with it. There’s a lot more depth of flavor when you make something versus buying it out.”
Q. What are your favorite wraps on the menu?
A. “The Cuban is really good. There’s slow-roasted pork butt and ham, of course, with Swiss cheese, housemade spicy pickles and horseradish-dijon mustard. The Double Trouble has sliced roast beef and pulled pork with barbecue sauce. A special that people ask for is the Ballpark Wrapp with grilled smoked sausage, Swiss cheese, banana peppers, housemade sauerkraut and stadium mustard. The fish taco wrap (offered on Fridays) is always big.”
Q. How do you come up with all those inventive specials?
A. “Ashley Sponaugle comes up with a lot of those. She’s been here since the beginning; she’s basically a co-owner. We’re engaged, she works two or three days a week and takes care of our 3-year-old daughter Willa. Ashley’s the one that keeps me grounded.”
Q. For as many hours as you put in, you seem like a happy guy.
A. “We love the business, and we love seeing people happy. That’s what it’s really about. If you’re in this business just for the money, you might as well close. Nobody gets rich on this.”
Thatsa Wrapp is open from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Friday, 9 to 11 a.m. (breakfast) and 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. (lunch) Saturday, closed Sunday. Daily specials are posted on the Thatsa Wrapp Facebook page.