Emerging Concepts | January 2014 | By Daniel P. Smith

Standout Store: Marcona

Los Angeles–based sandwich concept adds West Coast flare to the East Coast deli.

LA fast casual Marcona offers East Coast deli menu items with West Coast flare.
Los Angeles–based Marcona adds a West Coast spin to East Coast deli fare. Marcona
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Amid the glitz and glam of Hollywood’s boutiques and TV studios, Collier Ulrich’s upstart eatery, Marcona, is making a name for itself with turkey and ham. The New York native’s almost-two-year-old gourmet sandwich shop serves up classic East Coast deli fare enhanced by Mediterranean influences and a West Coast approach.

Alongside staples like the BLT and Tuna Melt, Marcona—a name paying homage to the Spanish almond—dazzles guests with more avant garde offerings such as the Turkey Romesco, built with house-roasted turkey, and the Lomo, the shop’s signature sandwich that combines pulled pork, sweet potato purée, grilled onions, sautéed spinach, Manchego cheese, date mustard, and harissa on ciabatta.

Ulrich discusses Marcona’s establishment and its rise up the L.A. food scene.

How did Marcona come to be?

When I moved from Denver to L.A. in 2008, I met Matthew Moss (a noted chef from Chicago) and slowly shared with him my vision for an upscale sandwich shop. He motivated me to think about it more seriously and really gets the credit for moving me from dream to reality. We created the vision, found the space, landed the loans, built out the store, and learned on the fly.

What attracted you to the idea of a sandwich shop?

As a native New Yorker, I love the deli, and while there were a lot of great restaurants in L.A., I thought sandwiches were overlooked. Plus, for a first-time restaurateur, a sandwich shop is a good industry starting point, given that it’s a more cost-effective endeavor.

How have you worked to differentiate Marcona?

There’s a duality at Marcona that we’ve tried to highlight and accentuate with complex flavors and progressive techniques that make us interesting. We’ve created a diversified menu that appeals to the progressive foodies as much as the guy who just wants a BLT. We have the classics, but also some high-end gourmet combinations unlike anywhere else. With our meats and produce, we source locally as much as possible, but we then pull in some international imports like cheese from Spain to get unique tastes.

How do you see Marcona evolving in the coming years?

We developed the concept to be replicated down the road, and we’ve gained a loyal following in L.A., where word of mouth for food is huge. As catering to the television studios and corporate offices has become such a big business for us, we’re looking to keep our current shop, largely as the catering hub, and then open a second unit that would provide access to more foot traffic.