Celebrating Lil’ Pickle

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Even though Pete Bower has owned Lil’ Pickle almost 13 years, people still come in and ask, “Are you the new owner?” But that’s what happens when you own a 55 year old institution.

Every week, he says, he’ll get a customer who will say, “My mom used to bring me in here when I was a kid. Now I’m bringing my kids in.” Or, looking at the team photos lining the walls, one will say, “That’s my sister, that’s my brother, that’s me, 20 years ago.”

James DiCamilli first opened Lil’ Pickle on 17th Street in 1962, moving to Fairview and Baker in the early 1970s — where it’s been ever since.

Mr. Bower, who previously ran Pizza Pete’s and Balboa Beach Treats near the Balboa Pavilion, was introduced to Mr. DiCamilli though a friend. When the latter decided to retire in 2005, he handed the keys to Mr. Bower.

Since then, Lil’ Pickle added a 14” sub. And, for a personal touch, Mr. Bower — an avid golfer — added golf gear to the sports-themed decor.

But other than that, the sub shop remains much as Mr. DiCamilli left it, including the sandwiches, the layout, the photographs, and the popular avocado spread. And it’s still family run.

Sticking to tradition has helped make Lil’ Pickle what it is today: a buzzing neighborhood spot reflecting the diverse community around it, where plumbers, lawyers, electricians, students, coaches, and professors alike rub shoulders.

In gratitude for its continued support, Lil’ Pickle gives back to the community every year, sponsoring a wide variety of causes, with a focus on youth and college athletics and other local organizations. Mr. Bower is proud to make Mr. Di-Camilli’s devotion to the community a central part of Lil’ Pickle’s mission.

Popular subs include “The Lil’ Pickle,” made with salami, capicola, and cheese, and “The Natural,” a healthier choice with turkey, cheese, and avocado spread on a wheat roll. The pastrami is popular, too.

No matter what you order, you’ll get a taste of history when you come to this long-standing local institution.

Lil’ Pickle is located at 2985 Fairview Rd. and is open 10 a.m. – 7 p.m. daily.