We had the good fortune of connecting with Lily Chan and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Lily, have there been any changes in how you think about work-life balance?
There is pretty much no balance when you are in the restaurant business. Hours are long, six and seven day work weeks are the norm, and pay is low. After hours start when most people are already in bed and and last late into the morning. After we had our daughter, I knew that I could not go back to the long and late night work hours I had been accustomed to all these years working as a chef but had no idea how to do it. I knew that I wanted a five day work week and no night hours, which is almost non existent in the field. I knew it was time to work for myself. A vacant spot miraculously opened up in town and the seed for Pierside Press Sandwich Shop took root. I had plenty of restaurant experience but always worked for other people. The thought of starting our own business was terrifying and exciting. Josh worked in construction most of his life and had no experience in the restaurant business. What he did have was a lot of personality and people skills, something I did not have as a back of the house person. We took the plunge to work together and opened up our little sandwich shop. It has not been easy, and we get a lot of flack from naysayers who think we are crazy for being open for “only” five days. Fortunately, we have super awesome customers who understand that we are a small family business with a young daughter trying to achieve work and life balance.
What should our readers know about your business?
Pierside Press Sandwich Shop is a super small family run business in Seal Beach, Ca. Josh runs the window, Lily makes the sandwiches, and their daughter Zena sweeps the floors and entertains the customers on the weekends. Pierside offers a small menu of signature sandwiches and salads made with love. Lily has worked in restaurants in Hawaii, New York, Florida and California before finally opening up her own place. She has sought out talented female chefs to work with and have been fortunate to have worked for Chefs Cat Cora, Gabrielle Hamilton and Patricia Yeo along with many other talented chefs. Nothing is ever easy in this business, it is labor intensive and a grind every single day, wake up and repeat. The potential for burn out is high. Working together as a couple is very very challenging and not for the faint of heart. It may be the single hardest thing we are doing in our business but also the reason why we are successful. There are so many people out there who want to tell you how to run your own business but you have to stay true to yourself and do what works for you. There is deep satisfaction in working with your hands to make something that hopefully other people will like and fill their bellies at the same time. There is satisfaction and pride in knowing that this work provides for yourself and your family even though with a small business the monetary return is also small. Most people do not go into this business with the expectation of riches but with a love for food and cooking.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
Shoutout definitely goes to my 6 siblings who cheer and support me along every step of my career. Judy, Mabel, Anna, Lila, Joanne and Raymond. They are my rock and I could not have done any of this without them.
meredith at zoom theory took the professional photos