Downtown Summerville’s newest eatery invites customers to “come and get your grub on,” with house-made favorites including bratwurst, burgers and Philly cheese steak — all of which are known for being a bit messy.

“Our food is that way,” said Dillon Zenobi, owner and chef of Off The Chain Sandwich Shoppe. “You might need a knife, a fork and a bib.”

Since OTC Sandwich Shoppe opened on Feb. 15, plenty of customers have risked a dollop of melted cheese on their clothing to try one of Zenobi’s classic dishes. People have mainly applauded the restaurant’s French Dip, Steak Philly and OTC Burger, Zenobi said.

Popular snack-a-teasers include jalapeno popper dip, meatball sliders, and boiled peanuts. Happy Hour fans can choose from locally brewed beers or a selection of Proverb wines.

Located at 100 W. Richardson Ave., formerly the home of Zest Grill, OTC Sandwich Shoppe has a prime spot in the downtown area. Those dining on the patio sit among rows of cherry trees surrounding Summerville’s Town Hall. Inside the restaurant, Zenobi and his wife, Toni, repainted the walls a “warm and inviting,” brushed orange color. Decorated with a Hard Rock Cafe theme, vinyl records line the walls alongside portraits of pop culture icons.

Zenobi said he initially considered a location in North Charleston. But when he and Toni looked at the Summerville site on W. Richardson, they were hooked.

“We love the location, I don’t think you can get any better than this,” Zenobi said.

Opening his own restaurant has been a lifelong goal for Zenobi. He said this business venture is a big investment, but the experience is worth it.

“I love to cook, that’s my thing,” Zenobi said. “It feels good to be working for yourself and to start from the ground up and have something unique like this.”

Zenobi got his start in the restaurant industry as a dishwasher. He was interested in cooking so he began to help the kitchen staff with prep work.

It wasn’t long before Zenobi discovered that he “was a natural.”

The chef at Zenobi’s first job took the young man under his wing- teaching him how to make hollandaise sauce, crab cakes and coconut shrimp.

From there, Zenobi began to take on more jobs in the hospitality industry, with each one he learned something new.

“I’ve worked my way up everywhere I’ve worked,” Zenobi said.

He traveled to California and Colorado to work with chefs he admired. He visited New Orleans twice to enjoy Jazz music and learn about cajun cooking. Zenobi drew on those experiences to create the menu at OTC Sandwich Shoppe.

“I kept working on the menu, it changed and changed,” Zenobi said. “I kept streamlining and modifying things to get it to work.”

As for the restaurant’s name branded in an Old English font- Zenobi said it means the restaurant is not a typical “chain” type of establishment.

“Off The Chain Since 1979” is a reference to the year he was born.

To learn more about the OTC Sandwich Shoppe menu, visit their Facebook page.