Mr. Pickle’s has a reputation of making one heck of a sandwich. It’s for this reason alone Owner Claude Sutherland decided to take a chance on the struggling business in Placerville when he purchased it and took it over in December of 2013.
The first thing he attacked was the drive-through.
“At the time we took over, (the location) needed a lot of love and tender care,” Sutherland said. “It had a drive-up window, but no vocal to it. We went to the people who do the ones for Jack in the Box and McDonald’s and had them install it. Now, when you roll over a certain area, it trips a certain trigger and says, ‘Good morning, Mr. Pickle’s.’”
Sutherland believes the new drive-through, which also had new landscaping done to beautify the area, will attract more customers. He couldn’t think of another sandwich shop with one.
“That was one of the things that intrigued me,” Sutherland said. “That’s the only one that I know of that has a drive-through. McDonald’s bases a lot of its success to its drive-through window. I thought this is pretty neat. I decided it needed to be developed.
“Before, people would get there, look at the menu board, then by the time they drove up to the window, they forgot what they wanted. Now, we have headphones and people to assist on the inside.
The patio was also revamped, for a better outdoor eating experience.
“I put up umbrellas; there were none there before,” Sutherland said. “I took all that brush out and I put gravel there. Then I put big rocks there. I changed the front. I stayed with the rustic theme, which I think is much more picturesque.”
“One of the things I’m really proud of is that since we took over on Dec. 1, we’ve increased the business about $300 a day, which doesn’t sound like a lot but is a lot,” Sutherland said. “This week is better than ever. Every day has been very good.”
One of the attractions Sutherland hopes brings people in is Mr. Pickle himself. The business’ mascot is on hand almost daily for three hours a day to greet families as they enjoy their meals. Sutherland even asks that parents who want to bring their kids for a photo opportunity with Mr. Pickle come on down, even if they aren’t planning on purchasing a sandwich.
In the end, though, Sutherland admits the biggest draw to his business is the name. Mr. Pickle’s has a reputation for producing amazing sandwiches, according to Sutherland, and he was happy to continue that legacy in Placerville.
“Visibly it looks so much better than it used to look,” Sutherland said. “We increased the patio. We changed the landscaping, improved the drive-in window. I think what really brings people in by word of mouth is just tasting the sandwiches. Our salami sandwich, we put 26 pieces of salami on the sandwich. We don’t put one slice of cheese, we waddle it with cheese. We use fresh turkey we slice right there on the slicer; we don’t bring in the prepackaged stuff.
“I just think it’s a sandwich that is second-to-none. It’s not because I own the place. It’s what got my interest in the place. I tried the ones in Modesto and said, ‘Man, that’s a hell of a sandwich.’ I like it so I thought it looked like something I wanted to get into.”
Sutherland owns the business with his son Vern. Their other business ventures include buying gold and silver and coins. Mr. Pickle’s is located at 4601 Missouri Flat Road and is open seven days a week from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. For more information, call 530-642-1677.