Confessions of a Snarfette

By Ellen Futterman, Editor

Hello, my name is Ellen and I’m a Snarfette. Or maybe a Snarfer? Whatever the correct terminology, I am now hooked on Snarf’s sandwiches; in particular, the portabello and provolone with lettuce, tomatoes, pickles and mustard. Delish!

Sure, I feel bad about cheating on my longtime boyfriend Jimmy John. But sandwiches have long been my thing, and as a connoisseur, I’m convinced more visits to Snarf’s are in my future.

For those unfamiliar, Snarf’s arrived in St. Louis a year and a half ago. It was brought here – specifically to 6301 Delmar Boulevard in the Loop-by Maty and Jodi Aronson, a nice Jewish couple with two young children who live in the Central West End and recently joined Central Reform Congregation.

Opening a sandwich shop in St. Louis wasn’t their ultimate life plan. Maty grew up in Israel and attended college in the United States at University of Michigan. Jodi grew up in St. Louis-her maiden name is Seidel -and after graduating from Ladue Horton Watkins High School, went on to to Tulane University.

The couple actually met after college in New York City. Jodi, who was living there at the time, was with some friends and their mothers attending a lecture at a synagogue in the Upper East Side. Maty, who was based in London and working in finance at Bear Sterns, was in New York for business, and also attended the lecture. Always on the prowl for a nice Jewish guy for their single daughters or their friends, the Jewish mothers were scoping out guys at the lecture. Enter Maty (pronounced MAH-Tee).

“He caught my eye and followed me outside of the synagogue,” said Jodi, “and then suggested we go get a drink.”

After he explained he was in New York for only a few days, “he then asked me out for every meal,” she added.

Suffice it to say, the two were smitten with each other. Some back-and-forth romance led Jodi to London five months later to be with him. The couple eventually moved to Hong Kong for his job in 2001, got married in 2002 and then came back to St. Louis in 2003 to “sort things out.”

At that time, Jodi was pregnant with the couple’s first child, Eleanor, now 8. (They have since also had a 6-year-old son, Noni.) “Our plan wasn’t to stay in St. Louis for very long,” explained Jodi. “But Maty decided to start a real estate business, figuring St. Louis was a good place for that and that way, he wouldn’t have to work for anyone else.”

Coincidentally, Jodi’s brother, Jim had been bit by the I-want-to-be-my-own-boss bug some years earlier. Jimmy Seidel had been living in Chicago and working as a stock trader when he decided to move to Boulder, Colo. and open a sandwich shop in 1996. He called it Snarf’s and it became a hit in very short order. Today, there are four Snarf’s shops in the Boulder area, another six throughout Colorado, two in Chicago and the Aronson’s St. Louis Loop location.

The latter came to be after the real estate market went south. Maty and Jodi figured why not give Snarf’s a try in St. Louis. “Besides,” said Jodi, “we were tired of traveling to Colorado every time we had a craving for Snarf’s.”

In addition to finding the right location, Maty and Jodi had to find someone who could perfectly duplicate Snarf’s bread recipe. “The idea is that all Snarf’s sandwiches should taste the same, so that it doesn’t mater if you’re eating one in Boulder or one in St. Louis,” said Jodi, adding that they found a baker in the Hill neighborhood who follows the recipe so the bread is “crusty and smashable.”

Snarf’s sandwiches come in three sizes, with more than 20 varieties from which to choose. The menu also offers salads, a daily soup and ice cream as well as beer and wine. Bags of Zapp’s gourmet potato chips, a holdover from Jodi’s time at Tulane, arrive every few days from New Orleans and jars of giardiniera, a concoction of hot peppers and diced olives, carrots and cauliflower, have become a customer favorite.

In terms of working together, both Maty and Jodi give the arrangements high marks, though Maty adds that it’s important to have a shared understanding of who does what. He’s in charge of daily operations, including ordering and overseeing Snarf’s staff of 12. She’s the marketing and customer service maven, along with being the primary caretaker of their children, both of whom are huge Snarf’s fans.

“My 6-year-old recently told me he is going to buy a Ferarri when he grows up,” said Jodi. “I asked him how he plans to pay for it. ‘Working at Snarf’s,’ is what he said.

“And,” added Jodi, “my daughter wants to run the cash register.”

The Aronson children likely will get to make their Snarf ‘s dreams come true. Their parents are putting the final touches on a deal to open a second location downtown and there could quite possibly be a third around Barnes Hospital.

And if Noni doesn’t get to drive a Ferrari, there’s always the Snarf’s insignia Smart car. Yes, that’s correct, Snarf’s delivers and caters, too.