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Why this deli hidden in a Burlingame office park was named one of the top eateries in America

Uploaded: Feb 8, 2023

The Pastrami Mami breakfast burrito at Gigi's Cafe. Courtesy Teresa Gee.

By Kate Bradshaw

Last week, Teresa Gee was surprised when someone told her that her small sandwich shop in a Burlingame office park had been named to Yelp's Top 100 U.S. Restaurants list for 2023.

So she pulled up the list and began scrolling up from the bottom. She kept scrolling past the 70s, where she thought her cafe might be if she was lucky, and then higher still. She didn't see her eatery until she hit #14.

"I started crying," she says. "I was so blown away."

Five years ago, Gee opened Gigi's Cafe at the Seabreeze Plaza on Anza Boulevard in Burlingame. The cafe's name is inspired by her last name, but with a spelling she felt was cuter, she says.

Gee was born and raised in Burlingame and has culinary training from Le Cordon Bleu. The restaurant took a big hit when COVID-19 struck, she says, and has relied heavily on a loyal customer base since then – they know many customers by name and their orders.

Teresa Gee, owner of Gigi's Cafe. Courtesy Teresa Gee.

But that has changed since Gigi's Cafe appeared on the Yelp list. Now, Gee is seeing a lot of new customers come through the doors.

"After all this hard work, we're finally getting our big break," she says.

Customers on Yelp praise the eatery in particular for the generous serving sizes.

"Everything is big here," she says. "Big salads, sandwiches, cookies, even coffee sizes…I want people to come hungry and leave full. That's my biggest thing."

The two most popular sandwiches, she says, are the turkey avocado smash, made with fresh roasted turkey, cheddar cheese, avocado, lettuce, tomato and mayonnaise on a toasted Dutch Crunch roll, and the tech bro sandwich with pastrami, turkey, bacon, melted pepper Jack cheese, lettuce, tomato, onion, jalapeños, chipotle spread and mayonnaise on a toasted Dutch Crunch roll. Just about all of the specialty sandwiches can also be made to accommodate vegetarians, she adds.

The tech bro sandwich offered at Gigi's Cafe, containing pastrami, turkey, bacon, melted pepper Jack cheese, lettuce, tomato, onion, jalapeños, chipotle spread and mayonnaise on a toasted Dutch Crunch roll. Courtesy Teresa Gee.

"We're very accommodating," she says. "I just want people to get what they want to eat."

Customers considering visiting Gigi's Cafe should know that there is no indoor dining, but there is an outdoor patio, or people can take their meals to eat outside along the scenic Anza Lagoon.

Gigi's Cafe, 111 Anza Blvd., Burlingame; 650-344-3355, Instagram: @gigiscafeburlingame.
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Posted by Common sense, a resident of another community,
on Feb 8, 2023 at 4:49 pm

Common sense is a registered user.

Great press for an interesting restaurant!

I wonder how Yelp really comes up with a "Top 100" national ranking, if the method has any claim to being truly objective (given that so many different numerical factors surface, pointing in different directions -- Yelp mentions them on the linked page, but the exact procedure is vague and must be somewhat arbitrary).

Yelp's business is selling advertising, marshaling both readers and writers of reviews to that objective. Yelp famously doesn't screen reviewers or reviews for "quality." Almost the opposite: Contributors posting large volumes of even vacuous reviews, or who get many reactions from a large network of "friends" they created, got invited to what's called an "Elite" squad but that seems mainly about incentivizing people to write more reviews. It has little to do with posting information most useful to potential restaurant customers. One outstanding former Yelp member on the peninsula, who had an insider's understanding restaurants and may have been a very experienced chef -- his reviews were detailed and insightful -- gave up, saying he'd realized his Yelp writing was scarcely being seen, so why bother? It was buried in the sheer volume, plus the more-visible "Elite" reviews full of comments about how hip their table was and what they all were wearing . . .

Posted by MyFeelz, a resident of another community,
on Feb 10, 2023 at 7:37 pm

MyFeelz is a registered user.

Oh great. Now I have to drive to Burlingame to get a sandwich!
@Common Sense, I usually avoid yelp because it's a place where more people take their complaints rather than praise. So I think it's really hard to get a good yelp rating. I would trust a good yelp rating more than a bad one.

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