Have you ever wondered what you could do with an order of 180 baguettes and 96 ciabattas? You could make a whole lot of sandwiches – 500 to be precise – and that’s exactly what the Larchmont Village Wine and Cheese Store (LVWC) does 6 days a week, Monday through Saturday. Even so, they still run out of bread nearly every day!
According to Sergio Boccato, owner of the store, originally, they had no intention of selling sandwiches; he was just trying to sell cheese and in an effort to “move the product,” he decided to offer a sandwich or two. From that simple desire and much positive word of mouth, LVWC has morphed into the Boulevard’s favorite sandwich shop, requiring an assembly line of five sandwich makers, working from 10 am to 5 pm, either making or prepping ingredients to keep up with the demand.
Maribel, “Marsi” Ramirez, from Oaxaca Mexico, started working at the store 10 years ago. “It wasn’t that crazy as it is right now. It took a few years for it to get crazy. People started to spread the word [about our sandwiches] and it started getting busier and busier, until my boss had to start helping me. When we started getting big phone orders, we had to figure out a way to accommodate the flow.” When I asked Maribel about what she likes to cook at home she said, ” I’m a vegetarian. I mainly eat salads, fish and Mexican food. ” (She didn’t mention anything about sandwiches.)
Ramirez’s cousin and roommate, Susie Martinez, was pulled in to help. Martinez, who came to the United States from Oaxaca, Mexico when she was 10 years old, first worked at the Larchmont Boulevard Restaurant, Girasole, and then began working upstairs at Larchmont Village Wine and Cheese in 2004, making seasonal baskets. She shifted over to working at the sandwich-making station as the sandwiches became more popular. Martinez said that there are 5 or 6 people who like the LVWC sandwiches so much, that they are “regulars” who come in daily. Martinez takes pride in her work behind the counter. ” I have a good relationship with the customers and I love what I’m doing!” she said. “I make it the way I’d want someone to make it for me. I have a passion for what I do.”
Another sandwich maker, Mercedes, “Cedes” Ascencio, arrived from El Salvador about 6 years ago. The job at Larchmont Village Wine and Cheese was her first in America. According to her, the most popular sandwiches are Turkey, Salami and Tuna. When I asked Mercedes what she likes to cook at home she said, “Whatever…. but no sandwiches; we don’t make sandwiches at home!”
Cesar Guzman has been nicknamed “Slicer Boy” by his co-workers because he slices all the meat and cheese at the store. Cesar is philosophical as he compares his customers to the sandwiches they order, “our sandwiches are parallel to our customers; some are just your basic meat and cheese, and others have a little more personality. We cater to them all, although it may be extra. Someone once brought over a piece of salmon and asked if we could make a sandwich with it!’
I asked Guzman if he ever dreams about sandwiches. He laughed and said, “in my subconscious, I am probably slicing meat. That would explain why I wake up feeling sore.”
The most recent addition to the assembly line is Michele Contreras, who is originally from Sinaloa, Mexico and has a 7-year old son. Contreras started at LVWC three months ago because they needed yet more help. “I help get everything ready and help Mercedes make salads for the [refrigerator] case. When people take their breaks, I fill in making sandwiches.”
Bocatto stresses that theirs is a family business. “We consider all of the people working at the store to be part of a family. “We all work together and just like in a family, if one member needs help, we step in to help.”
Next time you go into LVWC and ask for your favorite #3 sandwich (Soppressata Salami, Spanish manchego Cheese, mized greens, sundried tomato spread, extra virgin olive oil & balsamic vinegar) on french baguette bread, you’ll know a bit more about the identity of the swift hands and smiling faces behind the counter. The Larchmont Village Wine and Cheese “family” works hard together to make your sandwich just the way you like it.Larchmont Village Wine and Cheese 223 N. Larchmont Blvd. Los Angeles, CA 90004 Phone: 323-856-8699
Fax: 323-856-9390 Hours:
Monday – Wednesday: 10 am – 7 p.m.
Thursday – Saturday: 10 am – 8 pm
The best-kept Larchmont Boulevard secret: order ahead via phone or fax and you won’t have to wait in line. But then you won’t get to see your favorite sandwich-making crew either.
Best. Sandwiches. Ever.
how interesting! Great story. How nice to get to know the staff behind those great sandwiches.
Thank very much!
thank you for this – i love larchmont wine and cheese!
You are welcome! Me too!
WOW, yet another great story. I completely missed that they did sandwiches (I purchase wine there, but I’m always in a hurry)… and I plan to order some soon. Meanwhile, many thanks to Larchmont Buzz — you’re really helping me learn a lot about our great ‘hood!
Weselyn University in Middletown, CT? I grew up there and my family is still there. Great little town and a beautiful great UNiversity.
Been in LA West Hollywood 30 years and work in Larchmont at my bosses house for 4 and love this area