The Black Sheep Deli’s atmosphere appeals to both students and locals

By Haley Medeiros

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(Collegian file photo)

(Collegian file photo)

Amherst provides a wide array of cuisine, ranging from bakeries to pizza shops to ice cream joints. Just a stone’s throw away from Town Hall is The Black Sheep Deli, a bakery and deli that offers more than just quality food.

The cafe was established in 1986 and is a family-run business.

The Black Sheep’s menu includes a diverse sandwich selection, along with a variety of different soups, for both warm and chilly weather.

The sandwiches come in hearty portions, with an array of pasta and vegetable salads as side options. The deli selection covers all tastes and preferences, and includes vegetarian and vegan options such as the “Herbivore,” which consists of Feta cheese, black olives, roasted red peppers, red onion, lettuce, tomatoes and sprouts on a wrap.

For all the meat lovers out there, The Black Sheep serves sandwiches such as the “Southern Comfort,” which has buffalo chicken, bacon, pepper jack cheese, spicy mayo, lettuce, tomatoes and red onion on a baguette. The “Triple Bypass,” is another option, and consists of a third of a pound of hot pastrami, Swiss cheese and country mustard on rye.

The Black Sheep is proud to say its bakery is an “all butter scratch bakery” and every item is made from all natural ingredients. When walking into the Black Sheep, an extensive spread of scones, rolls, Danish and other handcrafted treats draws the eye.

Kylie Dolan, a sophomore at the University of Massachusetts and frequenter of The Black Sheep, said one of the most defining characteristics of the deli is its “large selection of desserts that are all made from scratch.”

“All their desserts are fantastic, but I usually get the chocolate mousse and a latte,” she said.
The Black Sheep also offers an extensive catering service that ranges from buffet services to “extravagant sit down meals.”

The café’s “bring your own beverage” policy is an additional perk that attracts college students and Amherst residents alike. Dolan described the atmosphere as “very unique,” adding, “Between the live music and down-to-earth people, the Black Sheep is a very fun spot to hang out.”

One employee, Jeff Fennell, has worked for the Black Sheep for the past four years. He emphasized the deli’s commitment to the Amherst area, calling it “the heart of the Amherst community.” According to Fennell, the Black Sheep has been the local bakery and deli for the past 30 years.

“There are regulars who come here for a reason,” he said, adding that that reason is the bakery’s high quality.

While there are always dependable regulars, Fennell noted, “The town has a new face every four years,” acknowledging the deli continually sees new people in each day.

He mentioned The Black Sheep just began to accept UMass UCard Debit in an effort to “cater to UMass students” by giving them an off-campus sanctuary to go “for relaxation and peace of mind.”

He’s noticed an influx of UMass students who now wander in to find a place to eat away from campus.

He described the regular customer crowd as “an eclectic bunch.” He also added the people who work for The Black Sheep tend to be “more on the creative and artistic side,” which contributes to its diverse atmosphere. Fennell said the employees truly care about the restaurant as a community, and work to maintain its distinguishable character.

Fennell is especially enthusiastic about the musical events the Black Sheep hosts. “We bring in a bunch of performing artists. That’s something no one else in Amherst is doing,” he said.

The Black Sheep hosts several musical events every week, such as Open Mic Night on Thursdays and Blue Grass Open Jam on Wednesdays. They also invite visiting artists. The UMass Jazz Combo will be featured at the Black Sheep on Dec. 8 from 5 to 7 p.m. Fennell mentioned he sees an enormous amount of talent come through the deli for musical events such as these.

The Black Sheep doesn’t limit its events to simply musical ones; it also opens its doors to political gatherings. During her campaign for Senator, Elizabeth Warren spoke to a crowd at The Black Sheep.

The combination of music, atmosphere, politics, and, of course, excellent food, show the Black Sheep is well worth a visit.

Haley Medeiros can be reached at [email protected]