Sandwiches are Kaci and Robert Lyford’s second business. Their first was roving the state and country with buckets of paint. He’d been a chef since pre-Y2K, a graduate of ye olde culinary school, and, somehow, they ended up with an interior painting business. A few things happened next that sent their reality into a corkscrew: In 2008, a little liquid spilled on the economy and the United States shorted out. Kaci Lyford’s father was diagnosed, suddenly — he didn’t smoke and he ran miles upon miles — with stage 4 lung cancer. It was a devastating blow to their family.
They did what anyone would do when presented with an icy wave of change: anything to keep moving. On a trip to France, they fell in love with the open air markets and the arresting, painterly fresh food that wasn’t flanked by Pizza Huts. They wandered into antique stores. It was all striking — except for the food.
“All the stores I remember had shitty chicken salad sandwich and a quiche.”
Close to a decade later (they just hit their ninth anniversary), their second business has become a leading reason to high-tail it to McKinney. On a shockingly hot afternoon, the heatwaves are turning the air into a cake, and Patina Green’s patio is packed in the beating sun. Nine years later, and the sandwiches are worth a blistering sunburn.
Inside, it’s cool, and focaccia chills at the register. The thick bread glistens, studded by summer vegetables. Heirloom tomatoes that look nothing like the tomatoes you’ve known hang in a basket nearby, ready for the plucking. You can certainly grab and buy a tomato, or you can enjoy the farmed tomatoes' intense succulence on a BLT. When the tomatoes are gone, the BLT will leave the menu.
These are some of the greatest sandwiches in the area. Turkey, built with the expertise of a mission specialist at NASA, carries flavor into the sky. There is building-tall creaminess from the goat cheese and Thousand Island dressing, earthy crackle from the kimchi and the toasty white bread. Really, it’s the Monet of turkey sandwiches, as simple as a sunset over a damn haystack. The BLT tastes like a Hill Country farmer waded through the dew to hand you a juicy tomato, personally, minutes earlier.
Don’t be confused by the antiques. A customer in front of me in line told her friend she’d thought Patina Green was a storefront, which it is. It just happens to also sell some sandwiches that will light you up like a lightning storm.
“It doesn’t make sense until you walk in the door,” says Robert Lyford. In the mornings, he makes as many sandwiches for the day’s menu as makes sense, depending on what's available from farmers. East Texas tomatoes are gems, so it’s time for a crusty BLT. The menu is simple because, honestly, he doesn’t have much to work with in the kitchen: An induction and a panini grill are his star tools.
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“I get chefs that come in and go: Holy shit, you work on this?”
The classic sandwiches, the ones you daydream about for days, can be something like music when the ingredients are in season — whether you cook them on a griddle or the engine of a Honda Accord.
Whatever you want to call Patina Green, whatever business it’s looked like for the past nine years, the sandwiches shine. Call it an antique eatery or a Instagram-jam store. It doesn't matter; just have a sandwich.
Patina Green, 116 N. Tennessee St. #102, McKinney.