Have you been wondering whatever happened to beloved sandwich shop M & L Market?
The space on the corner of 14th and Market has been shuttered since 2014, but last week, while walking by the empty storefront, we found the front door propped open and two construction workers painting the interior, which has been completely gutted. When we asked the painters if they knew who's moving into the space, they said they didn't know but renovations would be completed soon.
A building permit filed with the city this month doesn't offer any clues regarding the future tenant either, but it does note that the space's permitted use is still a "grocery and liquor store."
Some customers had high hopes that the owners of the sandwich shop—known for its gigantic, no-frills and reasonably priced sandwiches—might make another appearance after a hiatus of a few years. But through a few notes recently posted on the building's facade, the family has finally declared that the shop is closed for good.
Given that the farewell notes are enclosed behind gates, they're a bit tough to read, but the gist is: M & L Market will no longer exist at this location, and the family thanks former customers for their loyalty and numerous years of support.
The family business operated on 14th and Market for over 25 years. It was essentially run by mother and daughter, May and Judy. The "M" in "M & L" stands for May, who first opened M & L Market on July 1st, 1980, and the "L" stands for Jack Lay, May's "beloved late husband," per the note left behind.
The deli's most lauded items were the pastrami sandwich and almond cookies, and most people swore that ordering just half of any sandwich on the menu was enough to suffice as a hefty meal.
Former customers likely still remember the deli's strict rules for ordering sandwiches. You had to start your order with the bread you wanted first, then the type of sandwich, then the type of cheese and other toppings came next.
According to a 2011 SF Weekly article, May once shook her knife at a police officer who didn't know how to order properly. And when her daughter Judy took the helm and began making sandwiches, the same rules still applied.
We reached out to a few members of the family for comment on the business's permanent closure at 14th and Market, but, as expected, we haven't heard back. They were known for not advertising or talking to the press much, likely because they knew they didn't need to. The business had a cult following; there was always a line up the sidewalk Tuesday through Friday afternoons for eight to nine months out of the year.
We'll keep you posted on updates regarding any potential new tenants in the building. And if you hear anything, send tips our way by emailing [email protected] or texting (415) 200-3233.