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Calendar >  BIG Jim’s BIG Sandwich Day

BIG Jim’s BIG Sandwich Day

By   /  January 17, 2017  /  1 Comment


Pat Murphy


Pat Murphy…..Big Jim’s BIG Sandwich Day started at 4:30 am when most of us were still asleep. His helper Roger arrived at 5:30 and the rest of the crew shortly followed. Big Jim if you don’t already know, is the retired Marine that owns and operates Big Jim’s 395 Grill on E. Vista Way. When I say operates… I mean it. Every day is a new mission for Big Jim. His 395 grill is the best sandwich shop in North County. If you like sandwiches made from the top quality meats and breads… Big Jim’s 395 Grill is the place. My only complaint… the place is only open for breakfast and lunch.

This past Friday Big Jim had a Big Sandwich day. He had an order to supply all the lunches for a program at Vista High School. The order was for 775 sandwiches but Big Jim being Big Jim he threw in 10 extra sandwiches. I guess the Marines like to make sure the job is 110% complete. In addition to his signature sandwiches there were chips and cookies with each lunch.

We arrived at Big Jim’s 395 grill a few minutes past 8 am and watched Big Jim and his well-organized crew hard at work. It looked like a military operation. Crates of bread were stacked in one place, tomatoes in another, and sandwiches being prepared were all in formation along the one long counter in the compact kitchen. Jim went down the line placing huge piles of fresh ham and turkey on the thick slices of bread. It looked like an early Henry Ford assembly line.

As soon as one batch of sandwiches was completed, Jim’s helpers would add chips and cookies to the large Styrofoam container that would be stacked onto one of the dining room tables. Meanwhile Big Jim was already at work on the next group. Every sandwich got his personal attention. We watched for a while and then backed off to have breakfast. We would have liked to have our morning meal at Big Jim’s 395 Grill but because of this special order they were closed until 11:30.

At 10:30 we arrived at Vista High School to find out who was going to eat 785 sandwiches. The parking lot was almost completely full and we barely found an empty parking space way back by the athletic field. The main office was closed but there was an open gate and way down the hallway we saw a table with two people sitting behind it. Bill Meni and Dafnee Rameriz gave us a warm greeting and asked if we were presenters. They were signing in presenters and directing them to where they were expected. We introduced ourselves and told them why we were there. They called someone who they said could help us and in a few minutes down another hallway came someone we knew well.

Dr. Kyle Ruggles was coordinating the all day long program at VHS. He explained that the program was the annual Professional Development for all the Classified workers in the VUSD. We had previously met Dr. Ruggles at Alamosa Park Elementary school on several occasions. At that time he was the Principal or “Head Hawk” as they might say at that school. From all over the school district classified workers belonging to CSEA 389 had convened at the campus of VHS to take classes. There were 30 some classes that they could choose from. Some of these classes they needed as a job requirement and others were useful to people in their line of work. Their attendance was mandatory but they could choose which classes they wanted to take. The classes included subjects like CPR, Yoga, Healthy Cooking, Safety, Ergonomics, food handling, and even a How to Google class.

We learned that earlier in the day the VUSD Superintendent, Dr. Devin Vodicka, had given a keynote speech to the Classified workers and then a visually impaired guest speaker had talked about “Your Inner Superhero”. Even though we missed those speeches we saw there were still a lot of enhancements for the attendees. Vendors representing Palomar College, Vista Adult School, and Schools First Credit Union had set up tables. Nearby a large Kaiser medical van was in the adjacent driveway. High School band members were selling drinks, non-alcoholic of course, and about 10 representatives from the District’s HR department were on hand to help unload and distribute the 785 sandwiches. Dr. Ruggles who is now the District HR Director introduced us to Elaine Alexandres who is a District Assistant Superintendent. These two are hands-on administrators who obviously lead by example.

Soon we saw Big Jim approaching in the U-Haul Van he had rented to deliver the 785 sandwiches. The Styrofoam containers had been stacked inside cardboard moving boxes to make the transporting easier. All the HR people hurried over to help unload the truck. My wife Mary even grabbed a box and in no time all 785 sandwich lunches were on top of outdoor picnic tables. Luckily the weather had cleared for this event.

Marie Hoveln the president of CSEA 389 had ordered the 785 sandwiches. She told me that the policy in the VUSD is to deal with local vendors as much as possible. Besides, she confided to me, “The food at Big Jim’s is so good!” I had to agree with her.

So here it was Friday the 13th and there was this big black cat, (the school mascot is a black panther). Usually the combination of a black cat and Friday the 13th would indicate a lot of bad luck but this time everything went according to plan because Big Jim from Big Jim’s 395 Grill knows how to complete a mission. 785 sandwiches was a small mission for a guy like Big Jim.



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1 Comment

  1. Garry G. Garretson says:

    Good coverage Pat.

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