Michelle Hammond ran a production studio for years before she bought the historic South Pasadena sandwich shop The Munch Company in April, and her artistic handprints are all over its May renovation.

“Everything was confederate grey with racecar red trim for the windows,” recalled Hammond recently, before serving up a lunch consisting of a pastrami sandwich and corn roasted macaroni. The lunch spot’s new look—white-painted walls currently displaying artwork by Marengo Elementary students, window-side bench seating with board games tucked into its cubies, Halloween decorations in every conceivable corner—signifies the new direction Hammond hopes to take the eatery. A café-like vibe, said Hammond, is the atmosphere she hopes to create out of the formerly dark, musty space.

Munch Company owner Michelle Hammond, left, with employee Sarah Diaz. Hammond grows certain vegetables in South Pasadena’s community garden, pictured right. Photos by Harry Yadav

“This used to be primarily a grab and go lunch spot, where people would come on their 30-minute lunch break,” said Hammond. “I wanted to have a place that feels like it is a community meeting spot. We have games and a lot of families come on Saturday and come and stay for a long time. I want people to feel comfortable here, or meet friends after school.”

Hammond shops locally for the produce that is used in her shop’s delicious offerings. “It ranges from local supermarkets to industry-specific spots to the local farmers’ market. I also get some from the community gardens that outsource. I grow our chard for our sandwich stuff.”

The self-proclaimed “newbie” admitted that while her hours are long, even her challenges have been enjoyable. Her current dilemma?

“Figuring out how my favorites compare to other people’s. And how does the Munch Company brand play into that, with the classics, the staples?”

Harry Yadav
Author

Harry Yadav has served as the Editor of the South Pasadena Review since January of 2018. Born and raised in South Pasadena, Harry graduated from South Pasadena High School in 2012, where he played golf and basketball and wrote for the Tiger newspaper. In 2016, he earned his Bachelor of Arts in English Literature at The University of the South in Sewanee, Tennessee.

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