Chopping guts is his business and business is good!
by Bob Jaderberg
Jim Peplowski knows it takes guts to be a success in business. His guts are a big part of his business, and some people visit his deli in Palos Hills for that reason. Peplowski’s guts come in four flavor varieties — original, jalapeno, garlic and cilantro-lime. He and his son, Robert, spread the aromatic, saladesque topping of chopped onion, tomato, pickle and other ingredients liberally on nearly every Peppo’s Dili-Deli submarine sandwich that leaves their shop.
“200 Years of America, and the first year of Peppos–that’s how I remember when we opened!”
Peppo’s has been a popular sandwich destination since it opened in 1976 just a few blocks from its current location at 10303 Roberts Road. Peplowski opened the original Peppo’s with his friend, Pete Host, and moved Peppo’s to its current strip mall location in 2007.
“Two-hundred years of America and the first year of Peppo’s — that’s how I remember [when we opened],” Peplowski said.
The affable sandwich shop owner, into his fifth decade as the face of the business, is quick to say ‘hello,’ strike up a conversation and make small talk with each hungry customer. The personal touch is a hallmark of his busy restaurant, and he considers it one of the keys to his success. He encourages his employees to chat with and be on a first-name basis with customers.
Consistency is another key to success, he said. Through the years, he has taught countless employees his methodology for creating a world-class sub.
“We make the same sandwich we made 35 years ago,” he said. “The same sandwich with the condiments and same ingredients from the same distributor.” The downfall of many restaurants is inconsistency, he said. “You go in there one time and it’s good, and you go to another location and it’s not quite the same.”
Robert — who like his parents Brenda and Jim, goes by the nickname “Peppo” — bristles when his dad refers to the subs as your “basic” sandwich.
“We’re the world’s best sandwich makers, period,” Robert said. Guts — which are mixed with vinegar, oil and seasonings — are made once to twice daily in 24-quart batches. The popular mixture tops subs made from beef roasted onsite, Krakus hams and Scott Peterson deli meats and cheeses, Peplowski said. Based upon the number of loaves of fresh Gonnella bread the deli goes through daily, Peppo’s sells the equivalent of nearly 3,000 medium-sized sub-sandwiches every week. Menu item No. 4 — the roast beef, turkey and Monterey Jack cheese — is the favorite, Peplowski said.
“Ninety-nine percent of our business is sandwiches, although the Peppo Dogs are coming on,” Peplowski said.
The Peppo Dog is a Vienna beef hot dog or polish topped with guts, he added. Peppo’s also offers tamales, soups, chili and hot Italian beef and sausage sandwiches, as well as sub-sandwiches.
The Peplowskis are considering opening a second location he promised would be every bit as good as the original. Peppo’s is open from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday.
This is part of the March 10, 2011 online edition of The Reporter.