Lee’s Sandwiches is the product of the merging of ideas and family support. Chieu Le, the founder, came to America and settled in San Jose, CA in 1980. He began taking adult education classes to study English and frequently bought food from a catering truck before and after class. Seeing the potential of a portable food service vehicle, Chieu Le worked on a catering truck to better understand the business. By 1981, he bought his first catering truck and started his route around San Jose.
Chieu Le saw more potential in the catering truck business. He saw the need for trucks to have a place to park and clean their trucks with access to easily restock food and ice. The idea developed into Lee Bros. Foodservices, Inc, which him and his younger brother Henry Le developed in 1982. They chose the name “Lee” so it would be easily pronounced.
Within time, they created the largest industrial catering company in Northern California; serving more than 500 independently owned and operating catering trucks at one time.
In 1983, Chieu’s parents, Ba Le and Hanh Nguyen, started serving banh mi, Vietnamese style sandwiches from their catering truck by San Jose State University to the students and residents in the area. It became an instant hit among the community. Wanting to create a more permanent location and expand the options for their patrons, they opened the first Lee’s Sandwiches location on Santa Clara Street.
In 2001, Chieu Le and his eldest son, Minh Le, developed a new concept of Lee’s Sandwiches. In addition to the traditional Vietnamese banh mi sandwiches, they added Euro-style sandwiches, fresh baked baguettes and croissants, an extensive line of drinks including the Lee’s Coffee – ca phe sua da and desserts. The family came together and developed this new concept and opened the first store in Southern California on Bolsa Avenue in Westminster, CA.
The success of the new concept was profound and well received by the community. Unfortunately, Minh was not able to see his dream come to life. Minh passed away on March 29, 2001, at age 21.
However, the dream lives on, within a few short years, Lee’s Sandwiches grew rapidly, locations opening in Northern California and Southern California then onto Arizona, Texas and Oklahoma. Currently there are over three-dozen stores, with plans to expand across the country.
Lee’s Sandwiches attracts a diverse crowd, from traditional Vietnamese- Americans to a younger crowd, all ethnicities of all ages with the extensive menu that offers a unique dining experience for every preference.
Beyond providing fresh and delicious food for their customers, Lee’s Sandwiches is heavily involved with the communities it serves. They have contributed and helped raised additional funds for many tragedies including 9-11, Hurricane Katrina, the floods in Vietnam, earthquakes in Mexico, and other local charities such as donating food and sponsoring various community and non profit events.
Lee’s Sandwiches epitomizes their role as a community leader and sets the example of embracing their responsibility of contributing for the better of the community.