The American flags were out at this neighborhood eatery during the long 4th of July weekend.
Many local businesses closed up shop during the long holiday weekend: not Giamela’s in Burbank. When I asked the owner, Edward Giamela, if he ever takes off. “We’re never closed.” He declared with a straight face and then smiled. “That’s a lie. We’re closed four days: Easter, Christmas, Thanksgiving, and New Year’s.”
Giamela continue to laugh and joke as he worked making sandwiches behind the counter with three male employees on the day after the 4th of July holiday. I have lived in Burbank for years and passed this little hole-in-the-wall shop many times – but never stopped to check it out until today.
I met Alica Espinoza who was finishing up her lunch. Espinoza raved about the pastrami and just about everything else concerning Giamela’s. Espinoza has been coming to Giamela’s for 15 years and now her 19-year-old son Tony works here. By the way, Giamela’s opened up at 216 West Magnolia Boulevard in 1971.
Despite the 80-plus temperature, members of the Filijan and Zubricky families ate together at one of the outside tables. They say they’ve been “coming here for years.” Hilda Zubricky says that even when she lived in Las Vegas and came back to Burbank to visit – she always made sure to stop in at Giamela’s.
Inside the little shop there are five booths, some stools, a long table against one wall, and a television set. Very simple décor -clearly the emphasis here is on the food and not the ambience. There are less than 12 different sandwiches, with a small selection of chips and soft drinks. That’s it. Apparently that’s enough for the folks who love Giamela’s.
Like many regulars, 12-year-old Austin ordered the pepper steak and cheese. Austin is from Culver City, but when he visits with his dad, Andy Cable who lives in Van Nuys, they drive over to Giamela’s together. Other customers told me they come in for the great meatball sub, or super Italian cold cuts sandwich or one of the other sandwiches.
Oh, and the price is a factor, too. A small sub is $4. The large one is only a dollar more. The portions are quite generous. And each sub is made to order.
Well, I had to try one. I ordered a small pepper steak submarine with tomatoes and pickles. Got an orange soda as well. I sat on one of the stools and dug in. I finished it all – including every bit of the tomatoes and pickles. A tasty meal at a bargain price. I see why Giamela’s keeps them coming back for more. I’ll be back.
Giamela’s is at 216 West Magnolia Boulevard, Burbank, 91502. (818) 845-6611.