Posted by: R. Emmett O'Ryan | July 13, 2011

A Taste of the Silicon Valley

The Silicon Valley has changed quite a bit over the last 30 years but in some respects has stayed the same. I was reminded of this today while at lunch: I went to my favorite sandwich shop, Steven’s Philly Cheesesteak in Sunnyvale. Steve Gauthier, the owner, took my order and we reminisced about when he first opened his sandwich shop in 1989.

I remember when Steven’s first opened. I was actually there enjoying a “Steven’s Favorite” Philly Cheesesteak sandwich the very first week he opened for business. For those of us on the West Coast, this was a novelty. Philly Cheese Steak sandwiches were unheard of! But for those of us who have roots or attended school on the East Coast, this takes us back to fond memories.

Steve and I chuckled when he said that his place had changed a lot since then. Today he has tables and chairs in his sandwich shop and even a little outdoor patio in the back where you could sit and enjoy your cheesesteak sandwich, garlic fries, and soda in the fine summer weather. Back when Steven’s first opened, I remember I enjoyed my cheesteak sandwich sitting on the curb in front of his shop. Yes, things have changed.

Steve told me that back in the late 80’s and early 90’s, 70% of his business was from Lockheed employees. This changed with the layoffs from Lockheed in the early 90’s. In the late 90’s and early 2000’s, there was the rise and fall of Internet companies. That also has changed with a more diverse set of customers from Yahoo, Google, Cisco, NetApp, Ericcson, Juniper, and many, many others. I expect that Steve will see even more changes due to the coming layoffs at Cisco next month and the rise of Mobile App software companies.

Things do change here in the Silicon Valley but really good things stay the same – like “Steven’s Favourite” Philly Cheesesteak sandwich. It was excellent in 1989 sitting on a curb in front of Steve’s sandwich shop. It is still excellent in 2011, sitting in the patio area behind the same shop. The quality and taste has stayed the same and it still reminds me of my college days on the East Coast.

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