Known for being one of the best sandwich restaurants in Toronto, California Sandwiches opened in 1967 and has been a local favourite ever since. Walking into their Dufferin and Castlefield location, we could feel the 51 years of restaurant service behind them—a busy team of kitchen staff cooking up sandwiches, meat lasagna, and salads. Regulars were coming in for their daily orders, and owner Joseph Papa happily greeted all his guests.
We sat down with Joseph to hear about California Sandwiches’ long-standing (and not-to-mention very popular) history. Making us feel like a part of the family, Joseph brought us freshly made lattes, and offered us some sandwiches. We knew we were in good hands, good company, and surrounded by good food.
“The popularity [of the veal sandwich] was really demanding, and then we started selling sandwiches only.”
“My family purchased a grocery store in the early 1960’s. All grocery stores at the time were also delis and sold sandwiches”, Joseph explains. “In the early 1960’s, my father hosted poker games in the basement of the grocery store, and the players asked for veal sandwiches. His mom said, ‘we can make those here’.” Soon after, the veal sandwich was added to the deli menu at the grocery store, and it quickly became a classic. “The popularity [of the veal sandwich] was really demanding, and then we started selling sandwiches only”, Joseph explains. The original location—244 Clairmont Street, closed as La Rinascente, and officially became the first California Sandwiches in 1967.
“It definitely adds passion to the business.”
Contrary to the popular saying, “don’t mix business with family”, the Papa family has shown great success over the last 51 years. All locations are family owned and run with all the key members of any family—yes, that means seeing and working with parents, aunts, uncles, cousins, and siblings, everyday. “It definitely adds passion to the business”, says Joseph, while explaining the pride in maintaining a family legacy.
“Everybody [here] is treated like family, customers and employees too.”
The familial aspect of the business goes beyond the operations side of California Sandwiches. “Everybody [here] is treated like family, customers and employees too. We have lots of regulars.” The sense of family was definitely in the air; Joseph greeted customers by name, and guests made casual conversation with him. We can relate to this here at Platterz; we view our whole team as a family, and loved seeing that California Sandwiches has a similar mentality—no wonder we get along so well!
“Our business has increased since working with Platterz… the Platterz team is very detail oriented, just like we are.”
“Our business has increased since working with Platterz. We’re more well known now and are serving many offices who didn’t know us before”, says Joseph on our working relationship. This was quite the compliment coming from such a restaurant institution! Joseph adds, “the Platterz team is very detail oriented, just like we are”.
“We would never serve anything we wouldn’t want to eat ourselves.”
The most popular items on the Platterz corporate catering platform are California Sandwiches classics: the veal sandwich (the sandwich that started it all), the meatball sandwich, antipasto platter, greek salad, and roasted potatoes.
“It’s very hard not to eat a sandwich everyday. We would never serve anything we wouldn’t want to eat ourselves”, says Joseph. We can only imagine what it’s like being surrounded by California Sandwiches, sandwiches daily! We would definitely be tempted…
Make history with California Sandwiches at your office.