Owners: Juan and Sonia Gutierrez
Business: The Sandwich Place
Address: 2029 Mission St.
Type: Restaurants
Product: Deli

(answered by Juan)

What gave you your idea to start you business?
My parents were from Nicaragua, but I grew up in the Mission. The original business was Cookie Outlet – the owner sold the business to my mom. She had experience in Nicaragua as a restaurant, bar and supermarket owner. My mom started the Deli forty years ago and I supported her in the business for many years, In 1997, I left the business to go to school and work outside of San Francisco, but in 2000 I came back and have managed the deli ever since.

What has your experience been opening a business in the Mission?
Having a business in the Mission has been a great and memorable experience: I have met people from all around the world, with different cultures and languages. There is a mini-mural near the eatery’s entrance that reflects that diversity. Through the Sandwich Place, I have crossed paths with customers from Russia, China, Taiwan, Burma, Ireland (who came for five consecutive years) and many more countries. I recall so many memories from my wonderful interaction with locals and foreigners coming to the deli.

How does your business/business idea relate to your life?
I grew up in this deli. I like to believe that I add my vibrant personality to the spiciness and flavor of every sandwich I prepare for the customer’s soul. They come to the deli for a sandwich, but get more. I make a point of knowing regular customers’ flavor preferences. I try to start a conversation — in a natural and fun way — with my customers in the hope that we can share our personal stories, and maybe even some jokes. Every interaction with them is valuable to me.

Why should potential customers invest in small businesses?
My customers do invest in my small business every day. I ask my customers for feedback. For example, a nearby pawnshop owner says that the Sandwich Place has variety and unique taste. Another family, which used to live in the Mission area and moved to Oakland after four decades, keeps coming back to the Sandwich Place with their entire family.

Where do you see your business in five years?
I want to continue creating my business’ legacy. I would like to accomplish more of the long-term goals I have for the business.

What do you love about the Mission?
I love the Mission’s culture. The great 1970s influence in the area, and the Latino flavor. I love that people, who add their own style to the Mission. I love my customers, and am very proud that the Sandwich Place is a legacy business in the Mission.