Celebrating more than six decades of Hermosa Beach staple Mickey’s Deli
Serving up sandwiches and smiles since 1953, Mickey’s is a family affair.
- CategoryEat & Drink
WRITTEN BY AMBER KLINCK | PHOTOGRAPHED BY LAUREN PRESSEY
Hermosa was a very different beach community when Michael Angelo “Mickey” Mance opened the doors of Mickey’s Deli in 1953. After serving in the Korean War, a young Mickey returned home to Los Angeles eager to open his own business. When he asked his father where he should do it, he said, “Go to the beach; that’s where you’ll do well,” explains Paul Mance, Mickey’s son and the current president of Mickey’s Deli.
At the time, however, “There was nothing around,” Paul adds. “But they loved the ocean, they loved the beach, and they knew someday would be very popular.”
Today, opening an Italian eatery with a crowd-pleasing menu and friendly service by the beach may not sound like a revolutionary idea. But at the time, Mickey was introducing a new cuisine to the South Bay.
“Nobody knew what a pizza was; nobody knew what spaghetti was,” Paul explains. “It was very uncommon to have Italian food, and now there was a store that had it.” Families from all over the Los Angeles area would come to Mickey’s for their Italian bread. On a Sunday, the deli could sell up to 150 dozen rolls.
As the years went by and the beach culture in Hermosa evolved, so did Mickey’s Deli. While maintaining the convenience of a small, neighborhood store, Mickey’s menu expanded—catering to the increased number of beachgoers looking for a satisfying and well-priced meal.
“This place has been around for so long because of how people feel when they come in,”
The 5-cent Sauce Sandwich was introduced—an affordable and tasty lunch item that quickly gained popularity with the surfers who frequented the area. Mickey’s innate ability to read the pulse of the community drew patrons in; his personable, charismatic personality kept them coming back.
“My dad was an amazing guy,” Paul says. “He came up with this idea, and he just ran with it. He was such a nice person, but he was also a very, very bright guy. He had a really good intuition; everything he did just seemed to work.”
Paul’s decision to follow in his father’s footsteps was an organic one. “ was successful,” he explains. “And it’s a great place to come to work. You’re by the beach; you have a ton of friends—patrons that have been coming in for years. When I went away to college I didn’t know what I wanted to do, but when I came home I did.”
For Paul’s son, Mickey (named after his grandfather), the sentiment was similar. After attending college in San Diego and gaining experience in digital marketing, advertising and sales, Mickey returned home to the South Bay, ready to dive into the family business. As the vice president of sales and operations, Mickey brings a modern edge to the deli’s day-to-day without negating the value of a formula that’s worked for more than 60 years.
“The deli is run really old-school, and we don’t want to lose that,” Mickey explains. “But we always want to be more efficient. We want to modernize the business with new technology and marketing to improve the customer experience and extend the reach of the brand.” This includes working with courier services like Amazon Restaurants, Postmates, UberEATS and DoorDash, as well as promoting through platforms like Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat.
At Mickey’s Deli, the term “family business” extends further than just Paul and Mickey. With team members who have worked at the deli for nearly 30 years and patrons who once came in with their parents and now come in with their own kids and grandchildren, it’s clear to see that Paul and Mickey have sustained something truly special.
“This place has been around for so long because of how people feel when they come in,” Mickey says. In the memory of his father who passed in 2001, Paul and his son, Mickey, intend to keep that friendly feeling going while continuing to expand on their family’s growing brand.
A year for the books.