Frank Brown assembles a turkey and avocado sandwich as if creating a work of art--and art takes care.

A long line of people pull tickets from a red dispenser, but Brown remains calm. “Pickles?” he asks the customer. “How about a jalapeno?”

Peering up from the sandwich he is preparing, he flashes a broad smile at an impatient customer waiting in line.

“Hi, I’ll be right with you,” he tells her, scooping macaroni salad into a container.


“He’s always so very patient,” said Andrea Trujillo, 41, a travel agent grabbing a quick lunch at the Vons on Ventura Avenue in Ventura. “He knows what he’s doing, and he always does it with a smile on his face.”

Brown inherited his good nature and work ethic from his father, Isaac, a janitor.

“He always had that big smile and a lot of friends around him,” said Brown, 29. He grew up in Ventura but now lives in Oxnard with his wife, Bettina, 32, and two children, Isaac, 8, and Natasha, 6.

As the youngest of eight children, mixing with people is second nature to him.

“It comes easy for me,” he said. “It’s not something I struggle to do. I love customers, so that makes my job really easy.”

After graduating from Ventura High School, Brown took a $5-an-hour job bagging groceries at Vons 11 years ago. He also worked graveyard hours, stocking for many years before recently working his way up to deli clerk.

He now earns about $11 per hour, hardly a princely sum, but enough to get by. To Brown, working with the public is a labor of love.

“Customer service is something you have got to want to do,” Brown said. “You gotta love people, and I love people.”