Michael’s Sourdough Sandwiches, located at 5440 State Farm Drive in Rohnert Park, is the newest of four shops in a locally owned mini-chain that’s exclusive to Sonoma and Marin counties.
The menu boasts fresh sourdough and the owner, Rudy Porchivina, a native of Novato, says it’s the bread that makes a world of difference when it comes to a good sandwich — and it's fresh, baked daily.
It’s the sourdough that has made Porchivina's sandwich shop a favorite among locals, he says, though it’s only been open since November. The line at the counter says he’s not fibbing either. It begins at 7:30 a.m. when the store opens for business.
Porchivina’s big smile makes a difference too. He aims to please, and if profit is part of his game plan so is pride in his product.
“To make a sandwich shop a success you have to use the best ingredients,” he says. “You have to give people an experience that they can’t get at home.”
Porchivina knows the sandwich business inside and out. He has been in it since 2006. His longtime friend, Michael Braun, opened the franchise in 1989, 22 years ago in San Rafael and he’s still going strong.
“Many of our clients started out living in San Rafael,” Porchivina says. “They moved up to Novato, then to Petaluma and Rohnert Park and we’ve moved up the 101 corridor with them.”
The menu at the Rohnert Park Michael’s Sourdough lists 26 different sandwiches including favorites such as the classic Reuben with lean corned beef, sauerkraut and Swiss cheese.
There’s a tuna salad, and a hefty combo made of ham, roast beef, turkey, and Swiss cheese that’s called “The Sourdough.” Surprisingly, it’s not the favorite. The roast turkey made with white breast meat is by far the sandwich most frequently ordered. But customers don’t have to go by the menu.
Five days a week, the owner can be found in back or out front underneath the 'order here' sign — and he takes custom orders.
Porchivina offers up daily specials, and sandwiches range from $6.49 to $6.99. Salads – chicken Caesar, chef, Greek, and garden – are $6.75 to $7.50.
Ivan Luna, 36, who was born in Mexico City and who lives in Rohnert Park, slices lettuce, meats and cheeses, and makes his own sandwiches, too. His favorite is hot pastrami and Provolone cheese with avocado and jalapenos. “I make it Mexican style,” he says. “It’s hot.”
“I put love into the sandwiches I make," he adds. "They taste better that way.”
Most customers at Michael's live or work in and around Rohnert Park. Some are so close they walk to the stop.
Sheri Gurrola has a job at Wal-Mart and came to Michael’s Sourdough her first time because a friend recommended it. College students during the school year often flock from Sonoma State University, in part because Porchivina is an older brother to the guys at Phi Delta Theta and they’ve adopted him as much as he’s adopted them.
Tyler Markus, 19, a chemistry major comes a couple of times a week with his frat buddy, Adrian Harding. Markus always orders a sandwich with everything, which means lettuce, tomato, onion, mayo and mustard. In addition to sourdough, there’s rye or wheat.
Customers such as Markus and Harding like the selection of sodas and soft drinks – Pepsi in a 20-ounce bottle, or in a 10-ounce can, Stewart’s Root Beer and Orange, as well as an array of Nantucket Nectars including orange and lemonade chilled in the cooler. Snapple Teas are available along with imported San Pellegrino Italian sodas (orange and lemonade) and bottled water.
Regulars often sit, eat, and talk at the tables on the pavement outside the shop. Michael’s Sourdough is a nifty place to meet, grab a bite, and gab.
For years, Porchivina and his wife ran a public relations firm, and learned about PR first hand by working for their clients. They could do a lot of PR for their sandwich shop — but they don’t.
“We rely on word-of-mouth, much more than on marketing,” Porchivina says. “Of course, it helps that we build really good sandwiches and that they speak for themselves.”
Michael’s Sourdough Sandwiches. 5440 State Farm Drive, Rohnert Park. 7:30AM to 3:30 PM Monday-Friday. 707.585.9711. For those who don’t want to stand and wait on line, order online at michaelssourdough.com.