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Mr. Pickle is a family affair in Manteca; Grand opening 10-10
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Mr. Pickle manager California “Cali” Poso proudly shows the first dollar the new Manteca franchise took across the counter signed by the first customers, “Frances and Rod.” - photo by GLENN KAHL

It’s a family startup – Mr. Pickle sandwich shop in Manteca – with mom, daughter and son-in-law happy to already be drawing crowds in a bad economy.

The dancing Mr. Pickle, hawking customers on the corner of Yosemite and Commerce avenues, brings in a lot of business for the new owners.  They said their customers obviously read the story of their pickle man being kicked to the ground by rowdies and the subsequent police call, “Pickle down.”

Customers now regularly come into the shop with tongue in cheek shouting, “Pickle Down,” the proprietors say.

The small franchise got its start in San Mateo and has spread throughout the region with stores in Stockton, Lodi and Modesto to name a few.

California, “Cali” Poso, manages the day-to-day operations while her daughter Shannon is the chief financial officer (CFO) and her son-in-law Jason serves as president of the business and handles the marketing duties.

Jason Moran is a five year U.S. Army vet, having served as a medic in Kuwait.  He also spent active duty time in Georgia and Virginia when back in the states.  After he left the military he worked as a paramedic in Stockton for two years,  while in the inactive reserves,  before starting his own construction business J.M. Installations – dealing mostly in remodeling and additions.

His wife Shannon keeps just as busy raising their two children Katelynn, 8, and Alyssa, 6.  Not only does she keep tabs on the finances of the business, but she is also in the RN nursing program at Modesto Junior College.

Cali – mom and daytime manager – apparently has the same drive as her daughter in going back to school.  She is taking classes to become a paralegal at night while she keeps track of the sandwich shop by day.  She said she was always told growing up that she would make a good lawyer because of her love to debate situations.

After working 30 years in the restaurant world in the Bay Area, she was hired by the Mr. Pickle franchise CEO Frank Fagundes to manage the Lodi operation where she spent two years before coming to Manteca.

She and her husband Frank have small acreage in the country where he raises fruits and vegetables for their consumption, and she tends to their five Chihuahuas, 20 doves, and one gold fish.   As for her husband’s big garden, she says she does go as far as to pick her choice of fruits and vegetables.  Their five children are all grown and out on their own.

Jason said people have been saying they are happy to have something new and different in town rather than just another hamburger place.  “We already have our morning and night regulars who come in every day,” he added.

Of the 20 specialty selections the favorite has been #13 chicken breast with jack cheese avocado and bacon.  Soup is also on the menu now with a clam chowder bowl and a chili bowl.

The family has already been working with charitable events in the surrounding communities including the Ripon Soroptimist Club and its association with the San Joaquin County Women’s Crisis Center.

Jason said he has been constructing props and helping with the Almond Blossom Festival and the Black and White Ball in Ripon that the police department puts on every year.

The store’s grand opening on Saturday, October 10, will see a kids’ coloring contest and kids’ tattoos.  The store opened August 13 but the grand opening will bring with it extended hours on Fridays and Saturdays staying open until 10 p.m.

Also an addition to the Mr. Pickle menu will be the “Manteca Meatball Sandwich” along with a Rueben.

Jason said he really wants to make a big impact on one family at Thanksgiving – a family down on their luck – with a full course Thanksgiving dinner complete with turkey, ham, sweet potatoes and all the trimmings.  The staff at Mr. Pickle is checking with area churches to find just the right family to help.