SEBRING — Most people, who even know about it at all, call it the Indoor Flea Market. Its official name is Downtown Mall and Market Place. Located at 231 S. Ridgewood Drive, just before the Sebring Circle, it used to be a two-story bank building. Well, it holds a real surprise for those who step inside, especially now that the new Downtown Deli is open.

Instead of finding a row of card tables set up like an outdoor flea market, it has more of the appearance of a high-line department store. The owner, Mike Tellschow, has transformed the 30,000-square-foot building into a place where shoppers can browse both air-conditioned floors and visit over 40 vendors, plus an art gallery, murals and much more.

But, Tellschow’s latest treat is that shoppers can now sit down at beautiful dining tables and enjoy gourmet lunches prepared by Chef Ardy. By the way, if you like the table and chairs you’re sitting at, you can purchase the set and take it home.

The menu consists of hot and cold sandwiches and five salads, each at a reasonable price. Everyday, a separate menu lists the specials of the day. Chef Ardy is proud of the fact that he uses Boar’s Head meats and absolutely fresh ingredients. Nothing is imitation. Even his soups are all homemade.

Having learned his cooking skills in culinary school in Hungary, Chef Ardy worked in the food industry for 47 years before retiring to Sebring 10 years ago. His experience included mostly country clubs in New York, Boca Raton, and West Palm Beach. He said he got tired of watching TV, and decided to come out of retirement at the invitation of Tellschow.

When asked what his special dish is, Ardy boasted, “Everything I do, I do it perfectly. It’s all special!” He even wears his white chef’s jacket. With the assistance of deli manager Donna McMannus, the meals just keep coming out of the kitchen. For take-out, call 863-471-3532.

Another option at the Downtown Deli, is that customers can ‘Build your own sandwich’ with roast beef, Virginia ham, roast turkey, blackened turkey or corned beef. Pick cheddar, provolone or Swiss cheese. The bread choices are white, wheat, rye, pita, or sub roll. Now, add veggies like lettuce, tomato, red onions, and cucumber. Finish it off with spreads and dressings. Then sit down and enjoy your masterpiece at one of those ‘for sale’ tables. Afterwards, keep on shopping.

There’s seating for 45 patrons, plus a private room for eight. Tellschow is planning to add a conference room for 25, which will be for meetings and luncheons. He also will be adding a wine bar soon.

So, the next time you’re in Sebring, check out the Downtown Mall & Market Place, and now, the Deli. It’s open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday.

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