Monday, November 9, 2009

Yeah Baby! There's Lots to Love About Ernie's Market

There are countless fabulous restaurants close to where I live, but MAL had been telling me for awhile that I HAD to visit Ernie's Market in Oak Park. He promised me it would be an experience and never would I encounter another person who loves to make sandwiches as much as Ernie does.

MAL didn't lie. Happy employees can make or break a customer's experience, and I can't imagine one customer walking out of Ernie's Market unsatisfied. Ernie is a 60-something happy-go-lucky kind of guy. After welcoming us with a hello and a big smile, Ernie immediately pointed out that I hadn't been there before. He asked me to put an open palm on the counter, and he dropped three Hershey's kisses in my hand. Now, one thing you need to know about Ernie before you go there is he's loud...very loud! Not in an annoying or overwhelming way, but more in a "I'm so excited to see you I could scream!" kind of way. Ernie's signature phrase is "Yeah baby!", which he exclaims whenever he gets the chance. Letters spelling out that phrase and this sign are front and center on the counter:

While Ernie piled our sandwiches high with the toppings of our choice (yelling out each topping as he added it to the sandwich), he asked me to guess how long he's been running the market. I didn't believe he had been there more than 50 years, but Ernie said it's been close to 60 years. He also said he's been making sandwiches day after day for decades because it's what he loves to do.

Before we left, Ernie made sure to tell us there's a Facebook fan page for Ernie's Market. He doesn't use a computer, but two of the sweet ladies who work for him update the page. It's obvious from the comments and photos on the fan page that Ernie has made quite an impact on his customers.

Ernie drew a smiley-faced heart on my heavy sandwich (and I opted for the smaller size!) before sending us on our way with a "Yeah baby!" and a request that we return often.

Ernie's energy and passion for his business is inspiring. If you live in the Detroit area, take a trip to Ernie's Market the next time you're in the mood for a hearty sandwich and a few smiles. You won't be disappointed!


LJ said...

Sounds like a fun spot!

Mike said...

You sold me! Can't wait to get back and try it.

Anonymous said...

I am so glad u had a great experience at ernies, I am one of those sweet ladies! But i do have to clarify Ernie is not almost 80, he is in his 60's (although he wont fully disclose how old he is even to me!) But he was born there, worked there as a kid. His Grandfather started the store and he is the 3rd generation running it. I have known Ernie since i was 4, he is a big part of my childhood as he is to may others who grew up in the area. Ernie's is more then just about the sandwiches, it's about community and how one good experience can leave a lasting impression and he hopes that the love he spreads is spread by others.

EstrellaBella10 said...

LJ and Mike - Add this to your long list of things to do when you come home from Japan.

Ernie's coworker - Thanks so much for the comment and clarification on his age! I've fixed it in the post. And you're absolutely right that it is more about community than the sandwiches. Thanks for all you and your team are doing to connect people and spread the love!

metrogal84 said...

Too funny. I have been wanting to write a post about Ernie's for a LONG time now, but haven't found time to visit in recent months. LOVE him. This was my fave place when I lived in Oak Park and I tell everyone about him! (I thought I told you, but maybe I didn't!)