Little known sandwich shop a favorite of students

Little known sandwich shop a favorite of students

By Jillian Saftel

Some customers have waited for as long as two hours in line just to get a sandwich from Wan’s Convenience and Deli, and with subs named “Bob Marley” and “Orgasm,” Wan’s is a little different from the average sandwich shop.
Purchased by Al Niles in 1994, the shop, which is located on 1508 Tremont Street, started out as just a convenience store.

“The business looked good on paper,” Niles said. “But the demographic kept changing.”

He thought about the fact that the store was in an area with a high population of college students.

“I know college kids don’t want to cook, they just want something quick to eat,” Niles said. He also noticed that there weren’t any delis around and decided he wanted to incorporate the deli setting into his convenience store, similar to some shops in New York City.

“I didn’t want it to be just any deli,” he said. “I wanted to set it apart from all the others. I wanted a good product and high-quality meats.”

He said he likes to ask his customers what they think and have them sign off on new ideas.

“They give me lots of insight. We talk about different breads and meats and I research products. I like to use the ideas they give,” he said.

The business took a while to get off the ground, he said. He started using punch cards with a buy ten to get one free incentive and instating daily specials to “make this work.”

“People get wind of what we do here and they tell their friends,” said Niles. “It’s one of those hidden places. Very few people in general know about it, but all of the college kids do. They come in and run into their friends or tell their friends about it, and then their friends tell people; it connects like a chain-link fence.”

Niles said he wanted to give customers a comfortable feeling, as he laughed with two customers while he rang them out.

“Customers can grab what they want from any counter, and they can even go behind the counters and just let me know what the price is on whatever they grab,” he said.

“I trust my customers,” Niles said, “It’s a tight-knit atmosphere; warm, welcoming and embracing. I want the kids to be able to relax in here, just leave all the stress and madness outside. It’s like a safe haven … It’s all cool stuff in here. We enjoy the food and we talk about food.”

As far as the name of the establishment goes, its origin is more obvious than one might think:  Al’s real name is Winston Albert Niles, his initials: WAN. Niles owns the business, makes all the subs, greets you when you walk in and cleans up.

Wan’s Convenience even has its own Facebook fan page with 498 fans as of press time, including many Northeastern students. Fans of the page have left comments such as, “The best sandwiches ever in the history of the world. You’re the man Al!” and “Every sandwich is a life-changing experienc e.”

Wan’s is open Monday through Saturday from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m.

– Jillian Saftel,
News Correspondent

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