By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Hes in a pickle every day at work & loves it
Sal Lopez does a handstand for motorists as Mr. Pickle – the mascot for Manteca’s newest gourmet sandwich shop – on the corner of Commerce Drive and Yosemite Avenue. - photo by JASON CAMPBELL


• WHAT: Mr. Pickle is offering three sandwiches a month for a year to the highest bidder during next week’s Boys & Girls Club Telethon
• WHEN: Monday, Nov, 23, from 5 to 8 p.m., and Tuesday, Nov. 24, from 4:30 to 11 p.m.
• WHERE: Clubhouse at 545 W. Alameda carried live on Comcast Channel 97
• TO HELP: E-mail or call the club at 239-KIDS

Sal Lopez might just be one of the most popular people in Manteca.

And nobody even knows what his face looks like.

The 18-year-old Calla High student spends his time after school entertaining motorists at the busy intersection of Commerce Drive and Yosemite Avenue.

With his dancing moves and his unbridled energy, Lopez – also known as Mr. Pickle – generates a fair amount of interest from those who pass by on a daily basis to do everything from grab lunch to conclude their weekly shopping trip.

As the mascot for the San Francisco-style gourmet sandwich shop Mr. Pickle’s, Lopez dons the green suit of the pickled cucumber five days a week and takes to his corner where he gets everything from honks to middle fingers.

“There are a lot of people that honk when they drive by and a lot of people who wave,” Lopez said. “The suit definitely does the trick when it comes to letting people know that there’s a Mr. Pickle here.”

Even though it’s his job to get the attention of motorists, Lopez possesses a special skill set that helps both with his dexterity and his ability to entertain onlookers – spending time as a break-dancer.

Whether it’s spinning around to a self-styled groove in his own mind or laying down a one-armed hand stand, Lopez will do just about anything to get the attention of those who pass by the main Spreckels Park entrance.

It was his love for martial arts that drove him to don the suit in the first place.

As a student of Sensei Jason Cortez at the Cortez Dojo – who teaches Kosho Ryu Kenpo and runs a Gracie-affiliated Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu class – Lopez turned to a friend who hooked up with a job so he can pay for both his class costs and his training gear.

A jiu-jitsu gi can run as much as $100 by itself, and the sparring and gear only adds to the overall costs.

But unlike his martial arts training where Lopez loves to see people watch him excel, his anonymity under the suit allows him to cut loose in a way that he wouldn’t feel comfortable doing otherwise.

“Nobody can see me under here and nobody knows who I am. I just look like a giant pickle,” Lopez said. “I can dance and I can spin and I can just have fun and not worry about what other people think, and that’s something that people are going to remember.”

Not everything, however, about being “Mr. Pickle” is so glamorous. The Manteca Police Department responded to a call where a group of teenagers jumped out of their car and rushed the green mascot before kicking him in the groin. Lopez was not in the suit at the time.

Aside from the occasional middle finger, Lopez says he doesn’t mind being underneath the suit – especially since he gets to see a lot of the action at one of Manteca’s busiest thoroughfares.

“I saw a lady hit three kids and then back up and hit another car and then hit something else as she tried to take off – it was crazy,” he said. “There’s always something going on out here, and it definitely makes it all worthwhile.”

Mr. Pickle’s sandwich shop is located at 1456 Hulsey Way in the commercial center located on the comer of Commerce and Yosemite Avenues. For more information, or to place an order, call 825-7553.