For some, working with your younger brother or older sister might sound more annoying than fun. But for Kris Shea and Kathy Sandler, it was an opportunity to spend some much-needed quality time.
"There's a big age gap between the two of us,” Shea said. “So growing up, we just didn’t have a huge connection.”
After leaving their childhood home in Michigan, Shea traveled around to Santa Barbara and San Diego before settling in Colorado. He had an opportunity to switch careers in his late 20s, and after taking off a couple of years to travel, he opened up Cruisers Gourmet Subs in Steamboat Springs with his brother in 2011.
Fast forward to earlier in May, he opened up Cruisers’ second location in La Jolla with his sister.
“I’m an empty nester now,” Sandler said. “So I had a big change in life in terms of availability, and I was looking for my next career. There were just a lot of synchronicities that made this time the right time."
“We had a couple of heart-to-hearts about spending more time together,” Shea said. “It made sense. We’re kind of making up for lost time.”
Located at 637 Pearl St., Cruisers boasts a “laid back, come-as-you-are” kind of vibe with a menu featuring toasted subs, salads, freshly baked cookies, and toasties, described as “fancy grilled cheese” that Shea enjoyed while living in New Zealand. Cruisers also offers beer, wine, and two-for-one taps during happy hour every day from 3-6 p.m.
Shea said one of their most popular toasted subs is the Cuban, made up of marinated pulled pork, antibiotic-free Maplewood smoked ham, genoa salami, hot capicola, banana peppers, pickles, melted provolone, and spicy mustard. Their cookies — which are baked fresh daily — are also a hit, coming in flavors like S'mores, Triple Chocolate Chip and Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup.
But Sandler’s favorite dish is the chicken salad.
“It reminds me of our grandmother,” she said. “She always made Waldorf chicken salad, and we used to help her with the apples and walnuts. It’s very much a comfort food for me."
Feeling comfortable and welcome is something that Shea and Sandler hope everyone who walks through Cruisers' doors experiences.
"I think the neighborhood appreciates something that’s homegrown and not corporate," Shea said. "My sister and I literally build this thing from scratch. It’s really a labor of love, and we like to think that comes through.”
“It’s supposed to be a place where everyone is welcome.”
And everyone is welcome to attend Cruisers Gourmet Subs Grand Opening event from 1-3 p.m. June 8. There will be free food, gift cards, and other giveaways. For more information, visit cruisersgourmetsubs.com.