Mickey’s Italian Delicatessen & Liquor Store
If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it? Not at this SoCal beachside hybrid, which has thrived over 65 years thanks to a continual focus on upping its game.
In 1953, 22-year-old Michael Angelo “Mickey” Mance, a former serviceman and accountant, took a leap of faith and opened his dream business, a deli, market and liquor store serving up Italian faves like pizza and spaghetti, in Hermosa Beach, California. “With no other pizza places, we sold tons, because no one else had it,” explains Paul Mance, Mickey’s son and owner of Mickey’s. “My dad was a brilliant guy—everything he touched turned to gold, and he was the nicest man you’d ever meet. Even if kids came in with no money, he’d give them a sandwich. He just wanted everyone to eat and leave happy.”
With big shoes to fill, Paul didn’t look to significantly alter Mickey’s formula for success after his dad passed away, and the business remained a fairly old-school SoCal gem. But then the third generation came along—Paul’s son, Mickey, who brought fresh ideas to the company through digital marketing. “I wasn’t trying to change the business, just make it more efficient or improve upon it in some way,” Mickey recalls. “I wanted to maintain the brand but build on it, continue to grow its legacy.”
Paul, meanwhile, admired his son’s business acumen—a throwback, he thought, to his own dad’s sharp instincts—and Mickey (now vice president) joined the company in 2016. Mickey tapped new-school marketing techniques like social media; brought in a POS system, online ordering and smash-success third-party deliveries; and grew its catering business tenfold (providing a crucial year-round boost to supplement the beach location’s busy summers). “The saying, ‘If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,’ I don’t agree with that at all,” Paul says. “You can’t get stagnant. You always have to look for ways to improve and keep up with the times.”
Celebrating 65 years last spring, the business is obviously doing a lot of things right—and, yes, still looking to grow, tweak and possibly expand in the future. But some founding principles have never become passé: taking care of customers and employees (many of whom have worked at Mickey’s for decades) and always putting the business first. “We’re extremely proud of Mickey’s—both what my dad has done, and that we can carry it on,” Paul concludes. “This has been my life, and it means the world to us, doing everything we can to make it as good as it can be. We take everything very personally.”
Tracy Morin is PMQ’s senior copy editor.