I am almost ashamed of myself… almost. Why you ask? Because this column should have been written well over a year ago. I pine over where I want to bring you every month. How can I use 650 words to allow you get to know me a little better than you did last month? We may never meet in person, but I consider us to be forming a very real, if not very one-sided, relationship. I love introducing parts of myself, which very few get to know, through the places I like to frequent, eat, celebrate, see and be seen. How then, in the name of all that is holy, could I only now be getting to Brass Bear Delicatessen in Alamo?
First, a couple of qualifiers. I will only refer to Brass Bear Delicatessen in long form. On occasion, around the house, I may be overheard yelling, “Let’s go to Brass Bear,” but that brevity does not follow me into public. Brass Bear Delicatessen earned its full name rights. Secondly, I am writing about my long time affair with the Alamo location. They opened a second in Walnut Creek, and I hear it is just as wonderful (why wouldn’t it be) but my frame of mind is, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” Alamo is my home.
Let’s reminisce… Back in the time of dinosaurs and gas lamps, I was the assistant manager at Blockbuster Video (six- time Gold WOW Pin decorated). Tuesday mornings were my favorite shift. Yes, Tuesdays in the vid biz were “new release day,” but that’s not it. Tuesdays were one of very few opening shifts for me. I would sit at the manager’s desk doing the morning paperwork with one eye on the FOS Report and one eagerly waiting for the bright yellow Colombo Bread truck. As soon as (I think his name was Dan) would pull up, I was off. I would always ask what Sheida’s soup of the day was, but it didn’t matter. I was getting a quart and a fresh sourdough roll, and I would retreat back to my desk with no other thought in the world except the heaven I was headed to.
Mehran and Sheida Hamzeh have owned and operated Brass Bear Delicatessen since 1980. I haven’t done anything, except breathe, for 34 years straight, and not even all that well at times. They are like family to me. Their son and my brother were friends in school, and of course my Blockbuster days. Mehran still asks how my brother is whenever I see him. His wife asks after my kids now, and they both make you feel known just by their smile. This is our last stop before the ballpark every opening day for the A’s.
Their food is amazing because they care. Seriously, this makes a huge difference. They still make all of their salads by hand, daily. They make the soup at home. Slice their own meat and cheeses. Shred (not cut) the lettuce. Roll their own dolmas. They show up every day. They support Monte Vista (my alma mater) and reward a few students with the coveted counter job. They don’t try to be something they’re not. They decorate with hanging salami and teddy bears, because they can.
The name of this article is “I’ll have what he’s having,” and to truly live up to that standard, you must be having Brass Bear Delicatessen. It is so much more than a place to get a sandwich. It’s where you are reminded of the community that we are lucky enough to be a part of. My apologies to for not getting to this article sooner. I will double my visits to Alamo Plaza to teach myself a valuable lesson.
190 E Alamo Plaza, Alamo, CA 925-820-4798