As coronavirus restrictions ease, some restaurants are saying hello to dine-in guests for the first time in months. Then there are the new venues – those that held off on their debuts – that are saying hi for the very first time.

That’s the case for Nico’s Sandwich Deli, a takeaway-only sandwich and coffee shop that was slated to open in the CBD in March.

“We’ve just been sitting on our hands, itching to go, but holding off until everyone comes back to the city,” say co-owner Tom Peasnell (also Peaches, Cheek, Dexter, Takeaway Pizza and Kenny Lover).

“We didn’t want to [open] as less than what it was, with less staff or a reduced menu. We want to roll it out as it will be.”

The Nico’s concept came from co-owner (and Peasnell’s best mate) Marcus DeSantis. Rounding out the ownership trio is Leo Thompson, former manager at Brother Baba Budan.

The shop is located on Healeys Lane, a couple of blocks south of Flagstaff Gardens. There’s not a lot of wriggle room inside the tiny, seven-square-metre, white-tiled space. But it’s not for dining in.

Instead, you’ll line up in front of the old-school cobalt-blue signage to order the Nico’s Original: a tomato, basil, mozzarella and crisp cos lettuce sourdough sandwich that’s been funked up with a creamy sauce laced with herbs, Japanese shio koji (an umami-rich seasoning), nori (seaweed) and kombu (dried kelp).

There’s also a brisket-and-pork meatball sub, with bone marrow and a hearty, smoked cannellini bean sugo. “[It’s] definitely a Friday afternoon sandwich,” Peasnell says. “This isn’t your Monday to Thursday choice – that’s the Original.”

All of the meats – including mortadella, Calabrese salami, lonza (pork loin) and bologna – are cured in-house at Cheek. Breads come from Baker Bleu, and batch brew coffee is by Seven Seeds.

“We want the shop to have something you can eat every day. We don’t want to weigh our customers down with big, stodgy, heavy sandwiches. It’s a well-balanced, healthy and fast option,” Peasnell says. “We want to have regulars eating at Nico’s multiple times a week rather than coming down for the occasional treat.”

Nico’s Sandwich Deli is opening at Shop K, Healeys Lane, Melbourne on July 1.