Above: Johnathan’s Sandwich House owner Tony Wright introduced Louisiana fried chicken to NorCal.
Tony Wright’s desserts have pleased the toughest critics out there. By this I mean his eight children, who all give his cakes, puddings, and cobblers a thumbs up! Since the 70’s, Jonathan’s Sandwich house has been a staple in Alameda, providing deli sandwiches and American classics with a neighborly atmosphere. From banana pudding to Krispy chicken, Johnathan’s Sandwich House in Alameda serves up comfort food that’s a bona fide mood booster!
A Fresh Start
In 1971, Johnathan’s Sandwich House was created by a man named Johnathan (surprise, surprise) after he saw a need for a deli in downtown Alameda. The shop was run by his family for almost 50 years before the city-loved restaurant was taken over by Tony Wright a year-and-a-half ago.
“When I took it over, I modernized it. I made a bakery and brought in Krispy Krunchy Chicken to make a full menu,” says Tony.
Tony started off as a baker, but what drove him to Johnathan’s Sandwich House was seeing the lack of Soul Food in Alameda. Southern dishes like yams, greens, and biscuits that he was so fond of were missing from the island.
So, Tony linked up with a franchise called Krispy Krunchy Chicken to bring Louisiana fried chicken to northern California (hence the menu addition). Since Tony has set foot in the restaurant, he’s always looked for ways to grow the business.
Ever since the coronavirus situation hit the Bay Area, Johnathan’s Sandwich House has been embraced by the community.
“We’re kind of lucky because, in the city of Alameda, we’re one of the favorite restaurants,” explains Tony.
The eatery has seen an increase in catering due to the city of Alameda putting Johnathan’s in various city programs. Proud to serve its community, Johnathan’s gives back to senior, child, and 911 feeding projects. Also, every 2nd and 4th Monday of the month, Tony and his staff go out into the community and concentrate on feeding homeless populations or families in need.
Just like how Johnathan’s touches hearts by service, its food has also brought joy for the past 49 years.
“Food is something that goes straight to your heart. When you eat something that’s really good, it makes you feel good, and if you feel bad, sometimes a great meal makes the situation better,” Tony describes.
Bringing comfort food to Alameda from Tony’s family roots in Mississippi, Johnathan’s Sandwich House has become recognized for its home-style cooking. Customers love the cajun tenders, mac and cheese, jambalaya, and red beans and rice.
Since Tony started as a baker, he’s well-known for his southern desserts. He makes peach cobbler and sweet potato pie, as well as German chocolate, 7 Up, red velvet, and carrot cakes fresh and to-order. Learning from family traditions, Tony says he owes his success to his grandmother and mother, who were excellent bakers.
Since the City of Alameda has made Johnathan’s a part of city service programs, the restaurant’s still going strong. Tony has also made it a priority to keep employees, thinking of them as close family.
However, one thing customers miss is the eatery’s ambiance. “People loved our atmosphere. We had 80s music and so a lot of people used to dine and be a part of the social space. So now we’re trying to build an outside platform with 20 seats. We’re still feeling the impact of the pandemic,” Tony says.
He also explains that the best one can do now is just go with the flow. As the pandemic situation changes almost weekly, small businesses have to keep adjusting to the circumstances.
No matter how much the situation changes, Tony Wright and his staff will always prioritize giving back to the community to make the world a better place during these turbulent times.