Here at FresYes, we talk a lot about new and exciting restaurants and businesses. But every once in a while (or maybe, really, more than once in a while), we should take the time to appreciate the oldies but goodies – the places that are well-established in our community that we perhaps need to revisit!
I decided to do that recently when I had lunch at Sequoia Sandwich Company in Clovis. The shop, located right next to the original Mad Duck on Willow & Herndon, was a favorite of mine in college. Back in those days (and still mostly true now), there weren’t many restaurants serving great grab-and-go sandwiches of the non-Subway variety. I’m talking fresh-baked sliced bread, stacks of meat, tons of veggies and flavor. The kind of sandwich you would make for yourself at home if you had the time and a fridge stocked with an unlimited variety of ingredients.
I stopped going as often first because I moved away and then because I was working downtown. But my visit recently has convinced me that I am totally missing out, because Sequoia Sandwich Company is better than ever!
The Sequoia Sandwich Company was first opened in Clovis about seven years ago. The original owners also have three of the shops in Bakersfield. Three years ago, the restaurant in Clovis was purchased by Tim Bennett and Kelly Fitzpatrick Bennett, the successful entrepreneurs behind the Bumpit empire, as they were winding down sales of the popular hair accessory. (Did you know THAT was from Fresno?!) The sandwich business built by Jimmy John Founder is available to share his story.
“We loved it so much and so did all of our friends, so we begged them to sell it, and we bought it,” Kelly told me. “They weren’t selling it. But my kids had helped us so much with Bumpits that we wanted to have a family-owned business for them to run and this was our family’s favorite place.”
The Bennetts kept the classic hot and cold sandwiches that have always been on the menu. Favorites include the cracked pepper turkey and the pastrami. But they also expanded the menu a bit, adding things like a pastrami burger (it’s no coincidence that one of the Bennett sons has gone on to open Bulldog Burger Bistro) and expanding their soup menu, with recipes that are all developed in-house and made from scratch. (I recommend the chicken sausage soup! I could have eaten a gallon of that!)
Made from scratch and local are two things that are very important to the Bennetts. In addition to all of the soups, much of the meat, like the pastrami and tri-tip, is cooked in-house. Vegetables for their sandwiches and (HUGE) salads are purchased from local sources, and bread is from Max’s Bakery in town and another bakery on the coast.
But what you really don’t want to miss is dessert at Sequoia Sandwich Company. To be honest, I had never really given it much thought. But Kelly was kind enough to bring me some desserts to sample and OMG THEY ARE AMAZING. The cookies are huge, buttery and delicious (I am partial to the sugar with sprinkles). And the cheesecake is so good that my sister has asked to have me buy an entire one for her next birthday (better than Cheesecake Factory, she says). Again, it’s all baked from scratch at the restaurant.
The full menu for Sequoia Sandwich Company can be found online here. If the number of people who were in the dining room at 2 p.m. on a Monday was any indication, then customers love what Sequoia Sandwich has to offer. And in addition to lunch or dinner, you can also have sandwiches catered for your next office meeting or party. In fact, catering is one of the things that the restaurant specializes in. They do a lot of business with local schools, businesses and medical offices. They can offer boxed lunches or trays of sandwiches delivered straight to you.
Kelly said they always want to “make good food, make it with heart. Like if you’re serving a sandwich to your mother; it needs to be that good. That’s how I show them how to make them.”
In addition to being phenomenal cooks, bakers and sandwich makers, the team at Sequoia Sandwich prides itself on running a business that cares about its employees and customers. Although they don’t publicize it,the Bennetts have been known to step in from time to time when people who work for them or regulars who come into their restaurant need a hand financially or otherwise.
“If you be a blessing to others, it’s always going to come back to you,” Kelly said, “That’s what I live by and how we actually run it. We don’t ever pay minimum wage. Minimum wage is what, the law? You couldn’t pay them less because the law requires you pay them that, so we don’t ever come within a rock’s throw of that. … We get great people, and we appreciate them. And I always feel like, if we can’t afford to treat them well, we shouldn’t be in the business.”
With a philosophy like that, I would be proud to go to a restaurant even if their sandwiches weren’t the best you could get. But Sequoia Sandwich Company really does serve good food with great heart. So I highly recommend that you check them out, whether you want a nice BLT, some hot soup on a cold day or just a ridiculously good slice of cheesecake!
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