Great Western Steak and Hoagie

Great Western Steak and Hoagie Company, Venice. June 2013

The Great Western Steak and Hoagie Company is a little stand on the corner of Lincoln and Superba in Venice. It has been there for more than 40 years serving up a Los Angeles version of Philadelphia’s legendary sandwich. Housed in a former Tail O’ the Pup façade with the hot dog ends removed, it resembles a giant hoagie bun. The original brown “bun” has been painted recently, sea blue with scenes of Venice beach life, and is barely recognizable. It has changed hands many times over the years but the food has remained remarkably consistent. They still cook the thinly shaved meat on the same flat grill, flanked by heaps of onions, mushrooms and peppers and topped with a slice of melting cheese. The whole hot mess is scooped into a long doughy roll and splashed with a ladle of “pizza sauce” before being wrapped in paper, slipped into a brown bag and handed over the formica counter. The array of gallon jars of pickled cherry and hot sport peppers on the counter has been expanded to include Giardiniera (pickled vegetables), fluorescent green dill pickle slices, and fresh grilled serrano peppers. I don’t eat there any more, but enjoyed many of the steaming sandwiches in years past when I lived around the corner. Venice Arts, where I teach photography is just up the street and I pass by the GWSHC occasionally on my way from parking my car nearby. I peered in one day for nostalgia’s sake and discovered what may be the most rudimentary and least glamorous waiting area in the entire Waiting Room Project.