Aki Erenberg and Ricky Barrientos initially launched BEAR Steak Sandwiches in 2021 as a pandemic-inspired passion project, intending it as a temporary venture to cook for family and friends. Operating out of backyards, they offered their steak sandwich every Sunday in Little Italy.
But then something incredible happened. People loved it. And they wanted more.
Erenberg and Barrientos never let go of their dream to open a full-fledged sandwich shop, and today, they’ve turned that dream into a reality.
After years of searching for a permanent location, fate intervened, leading them to discover the perfect spot just steps away from where the BEAR Steak Sandwiches journey began: 550A College Street.
“A roast pork sandwich and hand-cut tallow fries have made their way onto the menu as mainstays,” explains Erenberg, but “the ethos of the business has remained the same: provide high quality, local ingredients to the neighbourhood with care.”
Priced at $16, the roast pork sandwich features pork shoulder, sharp provolone, and rapini on a sesame roll. True to their promise, the recipe for the original steak sandwich, available remains unchanged, featuring sous vide flank steak and housemade chimichurri on a papo secos (Portuguese roll) for $18.
“Not complicating the menu allowed us to hone our craft and produce and serve a consistently delicious product every service,” Erenberg said when the temporary operation opened in 2021. “We initially wanted to do different toppings, but Ricky’s homemade chimichurri is absolutely divine, and we decided this was the only other condiment worthy of our sandwich.” Evidently, their method worked.
BEAR Steak Sandwiches will officially open – or rather, reopen – to the public in its new permanent digs on November 4, and the first 25 attendees will receive a freebie. The celebrations will run all day, from 11:30 a.m. to 11 p.m., though the soft launch is already in full effect.
BEAR Steak Sandwiches is open Wednesdays, Thursdays and Sundays from 11:30 a.m. until 9 p.m. and Fridays and Saturdays from 11:30 a.m. until 11 p.m.