USC Village welcomes a new restaurant
Located between Il Gardino and CAVA, The Sammiche Shoppe is the newest addition to USC Village’s assortment of restaurants. With several restaurants offering sandwiches in USC Village and around the USC campus, the question arises: what makes The Sammiche Shoppe different?
Owned and managed by Willie Jenkins, the sandwich stands out for its nutritious versions of traditional sandwiches. Jenkins opened the restaurant with the goal of providing healthier food choices without sacrificing excellent flavor and quality. They produce air fried foods with Boar’s Head Premium cheeses and meat with no added fat or salt.
Early in his career, Jenkins followed in his father’s footsteps and became a general contractor. But one day he decided to follow his father’s original dream instead and never looked back; his father always told him that “construction is feast or famine, but people should always eat”, which inspired him to start his own restaurant, The first Sammiche Shoppe, a health-conscious sandwich shop, which opened in Inglewood four years ago.
His main inspiration came from his three sons. Their busy school schedules and involvement in extracurricular activities and various sports kept her family constantly on the move. Making sandwiches for his sons has become essential.
“I could always make a sandwich, so it was a safe place for me,” Jenkins said.
The restaurant’s name pays homage to Jenkins’ home states of Mississippi and Louisiana, where Sammiche is southern slang for sandwich.
His association with USC began when the Dean of the USC Sol Price School of Public Policy contacted him regarding catering services for an event. Since then, The Sammiche Shoppe has hosted several events for different USC departments. When asked to open a restaurant in USC Village, he seized the opportunity to grow his dream.
The Sammiche Shoppe had its soft-opening at USC on September 20, with a limited menu. Currently, they offer catering, delivery and catering services. From now on, they are experimenting with the menu to see what will work well on the Inglewood store menu.
Since its opening, the bestsellers are the Turkey Pastrami, the Beef Pastrami and their specialty, the Lucy Mae Air-Fried Chicken Sammiche made with their house seasoning. The burst of flavor added by the homemade seasoning makes the sandwich unique and appetizing. The Lucy Mae comes with a mouth-watering spicy alternative with just the right amount of heat. The sandwiches are neither too dry nor too runny, the bread is air crisp (on request), the chicken is well cooked and the vegetables are fresh.
To the delight of vegetarians, the restaurant also serves a Veggie Delight Sammiche, Veggie Sammiche Supreme and Grilled Cheese with a choice of Swiss cheese, pepper jack or cheddar. The star of the vegetarian menu is the Premium Grilled Cheese, containing all three cheeses for the price of one.
Currently, the dessert menu is limited to cookies. Priced almost the same as Insomnia, the cookies unfortunately no match for the late-night cookie chain.
All menu items are customizable. No pickles? Crispy bread? More gravy? They covered it. But beware! Not everything is free. An extra pickle is $1.25 and two extras are $2.25.
Jenkins says he feels welcomed by the school and the students and parents who visit on weekends for game days. To his surprise, he was delighted to see some former customers from his Inglewood outlet at the USC restaurant. Even though the store has just opened, they already have a few regular customers.
“We have this guy, he’s come at least three or four times since we opened,” Jenkins said.
Next, they plan to expand their menu, offer smoothies and merchandise, and open online stores. They also plan to set up a butcher shop from 5-7 p.m. to offer students the alternative of buying their cheeses and boar’s head meats and making their own sandwiches at the convenience of their homes. While the vibe isn’t particularly Instagram-friendly just yet, Jenkins said they plan to upgrade the store by adding more artwork, adding another projector, and curating a seating area to create a overall “country chic” vibe.
Currently, the restaurant is open from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Saturday and is closed on Sundays. The store will officially open in early November.
This move was risky for Jenkins, but he decided to follow through. He took the money from his construction work and invested it in this business and in his own ability to build something from scratch. Jenkins’ entrepreneurial journey has not been without obstacles, but his determination to see his father’s words come to life is what has strengthened him to persevere in the face of the challenges he has faced, especially during the coronavirus pandemic. . And Jenkins is sure to assure the USC community that he’s “here for the long haul.”
Resonating with the USC battle cry, Jenkins feels right at home at USC. “USC is a good place for us because [of] the “Fight On” mantra, Jenkins said. “That’s what we had to do to get here.”