Today the Venice Paparazzi spotlight shines on local entrepreneur Sergio Perez.
The Venice Paparazzi’s “In the Spotlight” is an interview series that highlights people and organizations in the Venice community. The purpose is to shine a light on all the positive things being done by the fantastic folks in our town!
About The Great Western Steak & Hoagie Co.’s: Old-school, counter-serve spot doling out Philly-style cheesesteaks & hoagies in cash-only digs.
How many years in Venice?
My family has been in Venice since the 70s
Give us a brief bio of yourself:
I was raised in Venice and manage my family’s food business. Organizations that I am a part of are:
- Member of the Venetian car club
- The Venice Mexican American Traquero Committee
- The Venice Cinco de Mayo Parade & Festival Committee.
- The El Grito committee.
- Annual feeding the unhoused a Thanksgiving Dinner at Venice Beach Committee.
- On the board of Venice Pride, though, along with years of service.
Tell us about your company.
- The iconic Great Western Steak and Hoagie Co. on Lincoln Blvd, a venerable Venice institution.
- Outlasting fabs and trends.
How long in business and how did you get started? Where did the idea or inspiration come from? And, how did you come up with the name?
The Great Western Steak & Hoagie Co.
Established in 1973.
The name is an homage to The spirit of the Wild Wild West. Although we did not come up with cheesesteak concept, Hoagies (street cred), as it’s known to locals, has been slinging Philly cheesesteaks for decades.
What accomplishments are you most proud of?
My family’s business always steps up to fundraise for our local schools and youth and to help community members in need.
I want to say above all is being able to provide a meal to first responders.
Photo courtesy of @hoagiesvenice
What advice would you give someone starting out in your field?
Know there’s a more significant role you have to play in this rich, diverse and resilient community that comes with being a business owner in Venice.
How are you surviving Covid-19 and the lockdowns? What moves or pivots have you made?
We have always been take-out. Food to go just had to be sharper and quick and move along and follow the guidelines.
Anything else that you want to share with our readers? Announcements, sales, promotions, etc.
I am running for a seat on the Venice Neighborhood Council in the upcoming election of 2021; I am deeply connected to the importance of community. Hoagies itself serves as a kind of “sanctuary” for generations of Venice community members. With my experience managing one of the most beloved businesses in Venice and longstanding community engagement, I will work to protect Venice’s diversity and contribute to effective and inclusive solutions for our community’s critical issues.
A few personal questions:
If you work really hard and believe what you’re doing positively affects people, the payout in the end is not just money but feeling rich within yourself and your community. It’s a different kind of wealth than most people look for, but it’s what you need.
What is the best advice you have received?
Keep doing what you are doing! You have an impact on our community.
Favorite affirmation, mantra, or quote:
You write your narrative, which reflects upon your city’s identity.
Favorite book, band or movie?
- Book: One Hundred Years of Solitude
- A novel by Gabriel García Márquez
- Band: Rhc
- Movie: Chinatown
List 1-2 things on your “post covid” bucket list?
- Venice Italy
Anything else you want to share about yourself to the world? Fun facts or accomplishments.
For many years I have organized holiday toy and food drives and partnered with local institutions like the Fire Department and LAPD to make them successful.
Just like we enjoy listening to the echoes of those generations who I don’t know who paved the way, rode the wave, shredded the way, to where we are now, a lingering secret, a nostalgic myth that only locals know.
What do you do for fun in Venice during Covid times?
I tried to reach out to the community and made sure they were okay.
Craziest or fondest Venice moment?
There are countless moments, good and bad, some I’d like to share and some I like to keep; what keeps coming up is the faces, the smiles, the sense of being home.
Anything else about Venice that you would like to say?
- Venice it’s ours and we share it with you.
- Keep VENICE weird.
Who should Venice Paparazzi cast the spotlight on next?
Gustav Zermeño zJr