Willie Jenkins created a shop where people can enjoy the flavors that are common in Black communities, but at the same time be more health conscious.
By Megan Reed
A new addition has been added to downtown Inglewood, as the area is going through a revitalization. Willie Jenkins recently opened the Sammiche Shoppe, and his Inglewood roots have heavily influenced the theme of this new restaurant.
Jenkins spent parts of his childhood off of Tamarack Avenue, and he followed his father’s advice when he was looking to start a business.
“My father was a general contractor, and I worked alongside him as a kid in the construction industry,” he said. “We used to go to Hungry Harold’s off of Slauson and Crenshaw. It catered to the service district, so you’d see guys coming in with their work trucks. He would say that construction was always feast or famine, and that you should go out and get something that has residual income, and he said that there’s nothing better than a sandwich shop.”
The name of the restaurant comes from Jenkins’ grandmother.
“She used to pronounce it ‘sammiche’ as opposed to ‘sandwich,’” he said. “She’s from Mississippi. A town called Picayune, which is outside of New Orleans.”
Jenkins was also influenced by health issues that his family members had.
“I was going to get a burger joint, but my mother had two strokes, and my sister was diagnosed with lupus,” he said. “So I decided to do a little bit of research and figure out the things that we as African Americans like to eat that were causing some of the conditions for my mother and my sister.”
During this time, Jenkins also found out that he was gluten intolerant. With the numerous health issues that affect Black communities, he decided not to open up the typical fast-food joint that had unhealthy items.
“I continued to set out to make a sandwich shop, and I wanted to give our people the opportunity to eat good, but I also wanted to be conscious of what we’re feeding our people,” he said. “I wanted to do a shop where we can offer the flavors that we like to eat in our communities, but also be more health conscious.”
Jenkins’ specialty dish is an air-fried chicken sandwich, which is made in a convection oven that infuses heat into a concentrated area, which is healthier than deep frying the meat in oil.
“Air frying makes the meat crispy,” he said. “It gives you the texture of being fried without having to put it into grease and deep frying it.”
Jenkins also does not add salt to the meals.
“We learned how to blend different spices together to give you the salty flavor without the bad side of what salt does to the human body,” he said.
Jenkins uses high-quality Boar’s Head meat and cheese, which do not have unhealthy additives or preservatives that gives meat and cheese a longer shelf life. When he cuts the seal on the products, he has to move it pretty quick, so the products that he serves are always fresh.
Other menu items include turkey pastrami, beef pastrami, chili, tuna, salads, and soups. There are also veggie and vegan options.
The Sammiche Shoppe is located at 222. E. Regent Street, which is half of a block west of Market Street. Contact them at (424) 331-5378, visit their website at www.sammicheshoppe.com, and find them on Facebook, and Instagram. Their hours are M-F, 10 a.m. - 6 p.m., Saturday, 10 a.m. - 3 p.m., and they are closed on Sunday.
Support local, Black-owned businesses! Compubase Printing is located at 3847 Crenshaw Blvd.