Tucked into a semi-residential corner of Oak Park, Ernie's Market is stacking hundreds of sandwiches weekly for a regiment of loyal locals. For more than 60 years the family-owned shop has served the neighborhood — 50 of them with Ernie Hassan behind the counter. Ernie's shop is not a place for a last-minute lunch break as people sometimes wait up to an hour in line for a sandwich, but that doesn't deter his followers.
Each transaction at Ernie's is an experience. Hassan addresses everyone with a familiar "baby" and often doles out handfuls of ice-cold chocolate kisses pulled from behind the counter. Choose from a simple list of sandwiches ranging from $4 to $7 (cash only). Then, select your meats or opt to let the master choose. Ham, turkey, salami, and other fixins are sliced to order and piled high atop an onion roll with lettuce, tomato, cheese, and "love" for a towering monster of a sandwich. Hassan then expertly wraps it in wax paper.
On a recent Friday afternoon, Eater's photographers stopped by Ernie's to capture the Hassan and the people who dine there. Unsurprisingly, the line was nearly out the door. Up front, Ernie could heard shouting his trademark "Yeah baby!" Watch the afternoon unfold in the gallery above.