Restaurants in Downtown La Verne, such as Warehouse Pizza and T. Phillips Bar and Grill, have established reputations in the local community.
Now there is a new kid on the block trying to make a name for itself. Shari’s Subs and Salad Bar has taken up residence on D Street, adding a new option in local eateries.
Although business has been increasing since the sandwich shop opened in June, owner Alan McNeil still sees getting customers into the store as his main challenge.
“The longer we’re open the more business we’re doing and the better it’s getting,” McNeil said. “It’s still touch-and-go as to whether we’re going to make it here or not but if things keep going the way they are I’m pretty sure I can make it successful.”
Although the restaurant has not been operating a full year, McNeil projected revenue for the first year to be somewhere around $80,000.
McNeil hopes to promote the business by expanding the already existing delivery service the shop offers. He said he has not pushed that much because the restaurant does not have someone around all the time to complete deliveries, and he does not want to pay someone to sit around and wait.
But with so many businesses across Arrow Highway in the Puddingstone area, he believes he can establish a delivery and catering relationship with them and not have to rely upon walk-ins for all the profit.
As far as local competition goes, McNeil said he does not really see much with other businesses on D Street because the other establishments are more sit-down style and have been in the area longer.
“There’s a lot of people coming to Downtown La Verne,” McNeil said. “Those businesses, they do their business regardless.”
When customers do visit Downtown La Verne they stumble across the new sandwich shop and often stop in for something different.
“It’s more probably I’m taking customers from them,” McNeil said, rather than Warehouse taking customers away from Shari’s. With more people learning about Shari’s, “customers that would have normally gone and eaten there are coming here.”
Shari Goodsell is the manager of Shari’s Subs and Salad Bar as well as the shop’s namesake.
“Trying to think of a name that worked right, the way Shari spells her name is kind of unique, so I thought, ‘well why don’t I just call it Shari’s?’” said McNeil, who opened the shop with Goodsell in mind for the manager position.
So Shari’s Subs and Salad Bar was born. The naming came as a surprise to Goodsell, but she liked the idea.
“I thought it would be fun,” she said. “Now I go around town and a lot of people know who I am.”
La Verne residents, McNeil also works as a general contractor and Goodsell is behind the counter at Shari’s each day the shop is open. She said there is a pattern in customers who frequent the shop.
“Most of our customers are repeat customers who come in two-to-three times a week,” Goodsell said. Many of Shari’s customers are University of La Verne students, so the restaurant offers a 10 percent discount on students’ meals.
Matt Paulson, a ULV senior, said he started going to Shari’s because it was convenient. Not having a campus meal plan, he has to go off campus for meals and would rather walk to a local restaurant than drive. He likes the healthy options at Shari’s and says he eats there “on average probably four or five times per week, almost always for lunch and sometimes for dinner. “Although there have been a few times I’ve eaten there for lunch and dinner.”
Goodsell believes customers come back on a regular basis as a result of a combination of quality and convenience. She said customers have told her the shop makes the best sandwiches because everything is fresh. She also thinks the shop has more to offer because there is an all-you-can-eat salad bar along with the many sandwich options as well as ice cream.
“I love what they have to offer,” Paulson said. “I started going because it was convenient, but now I have an affinity for Shari and her fine sandwiches.”
McNeil said the quality of Shari’s food sets the shop apart from sandwich chains like Togos and Subway because Shari’s prepares all its vegetables fresh in the store. The shop also does not believe in skimping on portions like other chains, McNeil said.
“The wraps at Subway are miniscule; they’re like a snack. At Shari’s it’s an actual meal,” said Paulson, who used to order a sandwich regularly, but has since graduated to the wrap. “I have a fascination with the wrap. It’s better than Subway by far.”
McNeil once had the idea of opening up a Quiznos. That idea never did work out, but both seem more proud of the alternative sandwich shop.
Shari’s occupies a space that was formerly a part of La Verne Hardware. McNeil had been looking for a location for the restaurant in the San Dimas area when he noticed that the La Verne Hardware space had been vacated.
“I saw it and said, ‘wow, that looks like a perfect spot for a sandwich shop’,” he said. But when he walked up to the window and looked in he thought the space was too large for the intended purpose.
Nearly a year later, McNeil returned to look at the space again. The building had since been purchased by Ellsworth’s and had been made into two separate units. The smaller space was just what McNeil had imagined for his business, so Shari’s moved in and has been working hard to serve the community ever since.
“We were hoping it would be busier, but it’s gradually picking up,” Goodsell said. “Hopefully it will continue to grow. You’ve got to bring a lot in to keep it going.”
Shari’s is located at 2313 D Street and is open Monday through Saturday, 10:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.
Chrissy Zehrbach can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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