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Sandwich Shops Offer Signs of Two Times

By Ed Fuentes
Published: Tuesday, September 30, 2008, at 03:42PM
SS_2 Ed Fuentes

Sandwich Shop owner Jimmy Kwon.

Two Downtown eateries mark anniversaries this week, one celebrating a year in business while the other honors a century. Sandwich Shop and Philippe The Original come from markedly different times, but the two share a sense of branding that reflects the Downtown in which they opened.

Sandwich Shop opened in 2007 with a plain name and a logo that is understated, yet jarring in its simplicity. The red letters on metal tell you want you need to know: Sandwiches are sold here.

Owner Jimmy Kwon is just as quiet and unassuming, and like the sign, unapologetic. "It's by design," says Kwon. He credits the straight forward branding to Lettuce, a Downtown environmental design firm. The simple name makes a contrast to the competitive market, says Kown, who adds “Even our walls are left blank.”

Wednesday marks the eatery's first anniversary, and Sandwich Shop will celebrate by offering free food and drink samples to customers from 11am to 3pm.

A little to the north, on Monday, October 6th, Philippe The Original will mark its 100th Anniversary by rolling back French Dips to the original price of ten cents from 4pm to 8pm. If you saved your pennies, you can add a cup of coffee for five cents.

Co-owner Richard Binder says Philippe The Original will close the doors at 2pm, then just before opening the doors at 4pm, a ceremony will be held to dedicate a new sign marking the anniversary. Members of USC’s marching band will perform, as well as Roger Owens, the Dodger Stadium Peanut Man.

Philippe The Original is from a different Downtown, when informal diners were unique -- or at least a better choice than the joint next door.

The food was as hearty as the signage, which was bold, far from shy, and never understated. Neon flickered at night. If a competitor took on the name and style of a popular diner, a café would add “original” to the name.

The message was the same: Eat. Here. Now.

For the Sandwich Shop, the most outrageous their branding gets is the use of a stenciled version of the logo inside. I almost called it generic, until I remembered I write for a joint named "blogdowntown." Now I'll say both signs are straight-forward for their era.


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