Neighborhood Flavor profiles the people behind the familiar restaurants, bars and food businesses of the Eastside
Atwater Village -- Giamela's submarine sandwiches came to L.A. over 50 years ago with New Jersey native Bill Giamela. His son, Matt Giamela, joined the family business at a young age. In their early years, Matt's grandmother used to take the bus with the meatballs she made at home to serve at the first Burbank location on Riverside Drive. Now, they've opened several locations and also started a meat company that supplies many iconic restaurants in L.A. including Pink's Hot Dogs and Original Tommy's hamburgers.
In a Q&A, Matt shares his experience building the New Jersey-Italian sub shop.
How long have you been in business?
My dad (Bill Giamela) started Giamela's on Riverside Drive, [Burbank] in 1964. He opened the Los Feliz Boulevard location in 1980.
Coming from NJ and loving subs back home he wanted to start his own sub shop here in L.A. He started selling pizzas and pastas around 1982. He first started with subs, like my Uncle Eddie’s Giamela’s in Burbank [now on Magnolia Boulevard], which still only offers subs today. We have 3 locations: Atwater Village, Sunland and Burbank.
I started working with my dad in '80s. As a kid I would go to work with him and he would teach me how to cut pickles, tomatoes and onions and how to make a great sub.
What made you decide to follow in your dad's footsteps?
My love and passion for food started early with my Italian grandmother teaching me how to cook Italian food and feed the family, which was a highlight for me at a young age. I always wanting to go into work with my dad as early as junior high school and help him out. I’ve always and continue to love the food culture. Now having two businesses, Giamela's and RC Provisions, my whole life centers around food.
It’s just me and my dad in the business. My Uncle Eddie Giamela owns the Burbank location.
What is the best part of owning your own business?
The best part is seeing and hearing smiling faces when they talk about Giamela's or the stories of generations of families eating at Giamela's.
What is the most popular item on the menu?
Our most popular sub is the Pepper Steak Sub, which comes from our other business RC Provisions.
Can you share a cooking tip for the readers?
If you source good quality items for whatever you are cooking, chances are much better your final product will come out great.