GRAND BOULEVARD — When DeCarlo Pittman finally opened Little Sandwich House in mid-June, he wasn’t sure how it would be received. Those worries were quickly put to rest on opening day as neighbors came out in droves to support the new neighborhood spot.
The cafe at 411 E. Oakwood Blvd. was a longtime dream for Pittman, who has lived in Bronzeville with his family since 2005 and saw the need for a community space that offered good food and a place to gather.
“I spent endless nights searching the 60653 Zip code until we found the broker, who really didn’t do much advertising,” Pittman said. “It was really a stroke of luck, and this is truly where I wanted to be, on a tree-lined street, and I wanted to have a place that had that neighborhood feel.”
Having spent nearly two decades in the hospitality industry, Pittman was ready to strike out on his own, leaning on his friends in the industry to guide him. Mentors Terry Alexander and Donnie Madia, co-owners of One Off Hospitality, were there to offer the sage advice, the most important being “treat your employees like family.”
“It’s as simple as that. There’s no secret recipe,” said Pittman, who added that the cafe’s hours are set to make sure that team members can enjoy a work-life balance. “Before we even opened up this place, being open 7 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. was always part of the plan. You have to have time for a social life. That’s what makes people want to come to work.”
Among his staff of local hires is Willow James, a Chicago coffee influencer who shares his delicious espresso recipes with more than 25,000 TikTok followers. Though that wasn’t the original purpose of his platform, the theater artist and photographer enjoys turning fans onto new ways to enjoy a good cup of Joe.
James handles the cafe’s coffee program, of which Pittman is extremely proud. Little Sandwich House gets its beans from Littlefoot Coffee, a Michigan-based roaster that previously operated out of Humboldt Park.
“[Littlefoot owners] Rosie and Alex have been nothing short of amazing,” Pittman said. “They’re really passionate about what they do, and I love that.”
And then there are, of course, the sandwiches. Crafted by Chef Danté, Little Sandwich House offers everything from your classic grilled cheese ($5.50) to Roasted Red Pepper and Spinach ($7.50) served warm with artichoke, cucumber, parmesan and pesto.
For health conscious folks, there’s a smoothie menu including the Strawberry Beet ($5.50) and Green Smoothie ($5.75), which includes spinach, mango, pineapple and banana.
Though there aren’t any plans for a big grand opening, the Pittmans are confident that as word of mouth continues to spread, more people will come through their doors to support it.
Little Sandwich House is open 7 a.m.-5:30 p.m. Monday-Saturday. It is closed Sunday.
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