Flavors of the world

Mark and Liz Guillaume

Photo by whitney garcia

A fresh life of adventure recently manifested itself for Mike and Liz Guillaume in the form of fulfilling a lifelong dream: owning their own sandwich shop. The Guillaumes came to Chico from the Bay Area, where they had over 30 years of business experience in marketing, office managing and self-employment. Once their two children went off to college, the couple began looking for a new career path. This past July, they found that EJ's Dogs and Subs, in the Safeway shopping center off Mangrove Avenue in Chico, was for sale. They quickly jumped at the opportunity and bought the business, moved to Paradise, and with the generous help of the previous owner, Ed Crim, they reopened as Alpaca Bob's Sandwich Adventures in mid-October. The Guillaumes take pride in offering a menu with flavors inspired from around the globe, like their Thai dogs, Italian-style paninis, Soviet sauce or Cajun hotlinks. The Guillaumes recently sat down with the CN&R to share their excitement of making sandwiches for a living and their hopes of creating a philanthropic dynamic between the shop and those in need. Find Alpaca Bob's on Facebook, or visit them in person.

Who is Alpaca Bob?

Mike: Alpaca Bob is the legend of the adventurer who searches the world looking for the best sandwich. His sidekick is Buttercup the alpaca.

Do you think he would find the best sandwich here?

Mike: Hopefully! We really want to offer new things to our customers. The previous owner's menu and recipes are still being used, but we are going to experiment all the time. Good thing we love to eat!

Why did you choose to start a new career in Chico?

Liz: We wanted to live in a diverse place, with lots of culture, and we wanted out of the Bay Area. We loved it there, but it literally took us longer to drive 3 miles across our town than it does to drive from Paradise to Chico. Our kids are out of the house, we wanted to be somewhere where we could eventually retire, and Chico is close enough to our friends and family. And, as we have recently learned, Chico is full of fun, dynamic characters that make our day here at the shop.

Mike: Absolutely. And we strive to bring good back to the community. If someone comes in who is obviously hungry and only has $3 and not $3.50, we understand. We have seriously thought about the idea of allowing people to buy a hotdog for the homeless; they would pay for two hotdogs, and we would be able to give one to someone who needs it.

What do you consider the best sandwich in the world?

Liz: We once ate a whole-wheat sandwich that had shrimp, avocado, cashews, cream cheese and sprouts. We still dream about it.