A San Mateo native, Vinny Ferrando has been a Bay Area sports fan for as long as he can remember. Practically raised at Candlestick Park, Ferrando recalls how his father used to drive the family to games in his San Francisco Giants-themed car, which landed them a front row parking spot every time.
Ferrando began working in the food industry as a teenager, eventually managing a restaurant in Chico during his college years. He said organizing employee schedules, maintaining stock orders and pulling long hours there gave him the confidence and the know-how to open his own joint, Sandwich Spot, about a year and a half ago.
"I've always just liked dealing with food and dealing with people," Ferrando said. "It just became time, and I decided I wanted to be my own boss. So that's how we got here."
Today, just over 18 months since opening his first Sandwich Spot, Ferrando combines his love of local sports, good food and happy people at one of the top Yelp-rated eateries in Mountain View. The shop has designated wall space for each of Ferrando's favorite sports teams, and the big screens tune in for every game.
There are 27 Sandwich Spots in the Bay and surrounding areas, but each is operated by a different owner and has its own style and menu. The Spots are not franchised, but rather run under a licensing agreement that allows each owner to personalize and maintain each outpost as he or she sees fit.
Ferrando has a fun-loving, all-laughs attitude but his sandwiches are no joke. His shop offers 24 specialties with the option to create your own. The bread is baked in-house and Ferrando takes pride in using all fresh ingredients for his subs.
He has also incorporated a love of barbecue and offers pulled-pork specials on Wednesdays and Thursdays, plus tri-tip on Fridays and Saturdays both of which always sell out. The pork and tri-tip are dry-rubbed, marinated and smoked on site, and a few different sauce options are prepared fresh daily. Ferrando guarantees that the Spot's "bomb sauce," a house-made jalapeno ranch, tastes good on everything.
"It is bomb," he jokes. "I tell people I put it on my cereal."
The menu features sandwiches named after teams' athletes, Ferrando's dogs and even a veggie option named after his mother Annette. The Christina Louise, with marinated chicken, pepper-jack cheese, hot sauce and bomb sauce, is one of the most popular orders, Ferrando said. The marinated chicken is flavorful on its own but the combination of hot and bomb sauce packs an added punch, and the Dutch-crunch bread is a great fit for the spicy sandwich.
Another chicken option, the "hooligan," comes with pineapple and jack cheese and is smothered in warm teriyaki sauce. Ferrando suggests a sweet roll with his hooligan sub, saying the soft bread coupled with the sauce makes a sticky but delicious meal. With turkey, bacon, avocado, bomb sauce and cream cheese on the roster, San Jose Sharks or sandwich fans might enjoy No. 16, The Sharky.
All sandwiches cost between $7 and $9, and are more than big enough to satisfy most appetites.
The sports theme at the shop is a big hit with customers, drawing in Giants, Oakland A's, San Francisco 49ers, Golden State Warriors and Sharks fans. The shop gets extra-packed on game days, because according to Ferrando's philosophy, sports and sandwiches go hand-in-hand.
"People can always relate, especially in the Bay Area, with how hot we are with all of these sports right now," Ferrando said. "If it's not the Warriors, it's the Giants; (if it's) not the Giants, it's the Niners; if it's not that, it's the Sharks losing in the first round of the playoffs every year." He even made a vow to Raiders customers that he will put something up to represent Oakland's team if they make it to the playoffs before his lease is up.
Ferrando is a people-person and seems to spend as much time cultivating relationships with his customers as he does making sandwiches. He said he is careful to hire like-minded people to ensure everyone who comes through the door feels at home even Los Angeles Dodgers fans can stop by, and the staff will treat them with respect, Ferrando promised.
To take his sports haven to the next level, Ferrando plans to secure a liquor license as soon as he can and extend the shop's hours so customers can stick around for evening games. Eventually, he hopes to open a second location to serve sports and sandwich fans closer to his hometown of San Mateo.
"I'm always here. But it's cool, I like it. I love sports, and I love sandwiches and being here," Ferrando said. "What's that saying, 'If you love what you do, you don't work a day in your life' or something like that? Well, it's true."
The Sandwich Spot
Where: 123 E. El Camino Real, Mountain View
Hours: Monday-Friday: 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.; Saturday: 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Sunday: 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.