Jeff Flancer of Flancer's Cafe

Written by Geri Koeppel Category: People Issue: July 2011

everyday folks” with his gourmet sandwich and pizza shops in the East Valley.
He opened the first Flancer’s in Gilbert in 2000, and awards and acclaim soon followed. The east Mesa store opened in 2008. In Gilbert, he showcases LPs he’s collected over the years; the Mesa location displays vintage 1960s and ’70s rock band posters.

Prior to moving to the Valley in 2000, Flancer worked at upscale restaurants in Baltimore and Los Angeles and owned The Ramblin’ Café for nine years in Santa Fe, catering sandwiches to local office workers and serving breakfast and lunch in a 20-seat dining room.

The restaurant’s website (flancers.com) offers biographies of all the employees who have been with him at least a year, from dishwashers to general managers, revealing one of Flancer’s keys to success: Treat your people with kindness, dignity and respect, and in turn, that’s how they’ll treat customers.

How do you incorporate your high-falutin training into your everyday cuisine?
It doesn’t matter what you’re cooking; you can always do something special with something simple. I believe in quality, so that translates into whatever you do.

Which is your best-selling sandwich?
Philly cheese steak. I was born in Philly. I like to tell people I perfected the cheese steak. (But) I was 8 when I moved away, so take that for what it is.

Are your sons, Gaffney (14) and Max (12), interested in working in the
restaurant business?

Probably not. Gaffney is an artist. He’ll probably go into Japanese anime. Max isn’t sure. He’ll probably go into the computer or music field. Gaffney’s done four logo T-shirts for me. Max was doing my website for a while.

Tell me about the fundraisers you do.
We just finished up our “Fun Raising” on Sunday (April 17). We had our 11th-annual pizza-eating contest. Last year we raised $20,000. This year the goal was $25,000, and we ended up raising $33,000.

For which charity?
The Wounded Warrior Project. That helps rehabilitate disabled vets through sports programs.

You collect record albums and ’60s memorabilia. What’s your favorite album cover of all time?
Definitely, definitely the Herb Alpert album with the girl with whipped cream on her [Whipped Cream and Other Delights]. That one’s great. It’s a pretty sexy cover for back then.

Which is your favorite album for its music?
I’m a Doors fan. I love the Doors. So I’d say L.A. Woman.

If you could cook for any rock star, alive or dead, who would it be?
It would have to be Jim Morrison, I guess.

What would you make for him?
Definitely I wouldn’t put any alcohol in the dish. I think I’d make him a modern French dish with a healthy American twist. He loved France and Paris, and he loved food.