It took a rejection from a sandwich chain for Troy Feist to realize that he should just start his own.
Fresh out of high school and 19 years old, Feist always loved food — sandwiches, in particular — and he figured opening up a Togo's might be a good idea. So he and a friend made an appointment at the Togo's headquarters in San Jose.
"We met with them for maybe about five minutes before they shooed us out of their office," Feist said.
But it was a blessing, he remembered thinking, because now he could make sandwiches the way he wanted.
After coming up with a business plan — which they learned about after a trip to the library — and receiving a $55,000 loan from his dad, Feist opened Lakeside Sandwich Shop in 1981 near Folsom Lake, north of Sacramento.
That shop was the predecessor to the Beach Hut Deli, whose 31st store is now open for business in Costa Mesa. It's the Granite Bay-based chain's first restaurant in Southern California. Most of the other locations are around the Sacramento area. Three are in Nevada.
The nearly 1,500-square-foot deli at 488 E. 17th St. is having its soft opening, though a grand opening is in the works.
Beach Hut offers more than 31 cold and hot sandwiches. The bread is imported from the Truckee Sourdough Co.
Examples include the Surfin' Pig — Canadian ham, avocado, bacon and cream cheese — and the Spicolli, a hot, oven-roasted turkey breast sandwich on a French roll with cheddar cheese, ranch dressing, lettuce and hickory-smoked bacon.
Then there's the Surfin' Bird — with turkey, avocado, bacon and cream cheese — and the Beach Bikini; it has turkey, cream cheese, cranberry sauce, sunflower seeds, alfalfa sprouts and mayo.
A dozen beers from local breweries will also be on tap.
Many tables at Beach Hut are shaped like surfboards. TVs abound, with some booths having their own. The outside patio, once complete, will have TVs, small tables, palapas and heat lamps. Reggae and island music plays in the background.
"There's bamboo everywhere, all along the bar and counter areas," said Jim Donnell, a 25-year Newport Beach resident and commercial broker who helped bring Beach Hut to Newport-Mesa. "There's lots of palapas. With the attention to detail in the design upgrades, it adds to the uniqueness of the whole place."
Kristiane "Pun" Thompson, who's worked at Beach Hut since she was 15, is going to run the Costa Mesa location.
"To bring the franchise down here means so much to me and so much to our brand," she said. "We're so excited to be down here."
Donnell said he felt Beach Hut will stand out against other sandwich chains such as Subway, Quiznos or Jersey Mike's Subs. The Beach Hut aims to be a destination where patrons stay for 30 minutes or more; it wants to be a neighborhood gathering place, he said, not just another fast-food joint.
Feist said his restaurant will display the work of local artists and host acoustic music nights, beer samplings and other events.
A second O.C. location is planned to open in April in Huntington Beach, Donnell said.
But opening in Newport-Mesa, Feist said, has been particularly special. His family used to take beach trips to Newport, where he loved bodysurfing and everything about the water.
"This is a full-circle kind of thing for me … definitely a dream come true."