USF Alum Serves his Community on Toasted Ciabatta

by James Franken, Office of Development Communications

Shadi Naber grew up in the sandwich business. His father, an immigrant from Jordan, has owned and operated a handful of delis in San Francisco. Naber who attended USF from 2008–2010 says his experience at USF helped him shape his idea of what it means to build a community. Four years ago, Naber brought Salty’s to life; a modern American sandwich shop with a middle eastern twist.

Naber grew up in San Bruno, spending a lot of his time assisting his father at the deli. Deli &, their most recent venture, was a regular stop in the Financial District for professionals on their lunch breaks.

“It was myself, my dad, and nine other employees, running this small shop in the financial district. I learned a lot,” said Naber.

When the family lost their business due to the ‘08 housing crisis, Naber worked in contemporary restaurants to learn the ins-and-outs of dining. His experience between his fathers deli and his new found knowledge of modern American eateries shaped the concept for what would become his bread and butter.

Coming to Fruition

Salty’s sits on Van Ness in the Tenderloin, just a few blocks north of City Hall. The space is a small, warm nook nestled tightly between other mom-and-pop shops.

During the past four years, the shop has slowly become a staple for the people who live and work in the area. With the majority of his customers being regulars, he aimed for Salty’s to be a place where members of the community can feel comfortable, the same way he felt in the classroom all those years ago.

When Naber attended USF he learned about the importance of community. His time at USF played a part in creating that sense of togetherness, something that is often overlooked in modern day entrepreneurship.

“My experience at USF helped me shape my communication skills, which allows me to make customers feel welcome, and foster a sense of community.”

The hours of operation are specifically catered to the lunch rush, and everyday Naber sees the same friendly and familiar faces.

“90% of my customers are regulars. Everyone lives or works in the area. It feels like a family.”

A Hunger to Succeed

As for Naber, he’s still around after everyone leaves. The work doesn’t stop, as he stays behind after his employees leave to knock out some last minute cleaning and prep work, like tomorrow's fresh batch of pickled red onion or the signature homemade garlic mayo. Naber had time to chat while he was still rushing around the kitchen, about an hour after the shop closed up for the day.

“I was never afraid of putting my own twist on things. Salty’s was no exception.”

Naber’s father, who is an experienced entrepreneur himself, wondered why he was putting so much time into the business. Naber said with a determined look, “When I said I wanted to do it my way, this is what I meant.”

Before checking out for the day, Naber was asked if he had any advice for current students who want to start their own business. He smiled, nodded his head, and said, “Just go for it. Do your due diligence and stick to it. You can make anything happen.”

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