Food & Drink

At Garden Deli, They Know You By Name—Or By Your Sandwich

Family-run business has made locally renowned sandwiches and salads for almost 50 years

Ryan Samson (left), Raquel Pedraza (center) and fellow workers busy with lunch orders at Garden Deli and Liquors. PHOTO: TARMO HANNULA

Garden Deli is a family-run business that has been making locally renowned sandwiches and salads for almost 50 years.

Owner Lisa Pennington credits the business’ success to the support of her family, saying it would be impossible to run the deli without the help of her mom, sister, husband and children. Originally purchased as just a liquor store, they eventually started selling sandwiches, and business took off from there—they now serve 500-600 sandwiches per day and have a sizable local following. Pennington spoke to GT about what keeps all those customers coming back.

What makes Garden Deli so popular and what are a couple favorite sandwiches?

LISA PENNINGTON: We work really hard to offer a good product and serve nothing but quality food at a reasonable price—it’s what has kept us in business for so long. We also know many of our customers by name, and sometimes by sandwich. That also sets us apart, our personability and really getting to know our customers. Our hot pastrami is one great sandwich, the brisket is slow-cooked in-house and comes with a choice of cheese and bread, and all the fixings and condiments. For a cold sandwich, the turkey/bacon/avocado is another top seller. The turkey is oven roasted, and who doesn’t love bacon and avocado?

What makes your salads so special?

I am super particular about the produce we use, and they are all made fresh every day and are a great grab-and-go option. Our chicken taco salad is very well-known and extremely popular, people drive from all over the county just for it. We sell about 125 of them per day. The house-made chipotle ranch dressing is really what kicks it into drive. We have other great salads too, including Chinese chicken, chicken Caesar, and chef’s salad.

What are some highlights from the breakfast menu?

Our first 50 or so customers every morning are regulars; when we open our doors there is already a line. We serve our entire menu all day. Many people get their breakfast in the morning from us and get a sandwich or salad for later at lunch. Our breakfast burritos and breakfast sandwiches are a big hit. We have great options that are totally customizable and customers can also build their own.

1815 Soquel Drive, Santa Cruz. 831-475-9191, scgardendeli.com.

Contributor at Good Times |

Andrew has been writing for most of his life and has been published in multiple forms. He has a B.S. in Psychology from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo and an M.S. in Nutritional Science from California State University at Chico. His interests, journalistic and otherwise, are diverse. But like pretty much everyone else he loves music and sports as well as food, water, and shelter. His favorite animal is the Pacific green sea turtle and his favorite board game is Stratego. He is also prone to over-thinking and is glad that this paragraph will soon be over so that he can stop trying to describe himself within it.

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