Yesterland

Earl of Sandwich

Downtown Disney, Disneyland Resort
Earl of Sandwich at the Disneyland Resort

Photo by Chris Bales, 2018

At the western end of Yester Downtown Disney


Hmmm… what happened to Compass Books, which used to be around here? It wasn’t just a bookstore. It was also a place to have breakfast.

Well, the same location is still a place to have breakfast—and also lunch and dinner. It’s called Earl of Sandwich.

The slogan of Earl of Sandwich is “Since 1762.” That’s even more impressive than Compass Books’ claim of “Since 1851”—until you realize that 1762 just refers to the year that the sandwich was invented. The first Earl of Sandwich restaurant anywhere opened in 2004.

Earl of Sandwich at the Disneyland Resort

Photo by Chris Bales, 2018

John Montagu, the face of the restaurant

According to the Earl of Sandwich website:

In 1762, John Montagu, the 4th Earl of Sandwich®, invented the meal that changed dining forever. As the story goes, he was playing cards and did not want to leave the gaming table to eat. He asked for a serving of roast beef to be placed between two slices of bread so he could eat with his hands. Thus, the Sandwich was born.

Who could be better to continue the tradition of the sandwich than the descendants of its inventor? In 2004, Lord John Montagu, the 11th Earl of Sandwich® and his son, the Honorable Orlando Montagu, direct descendants of the inventor of the sandwich, partnered with Robert Earl, founder and CEO of Planet Hollywood®, to launch the Earl of Sandwich® restaurants.

Great bragging rights for a sandwich shop!

Others will point out that people had been putting meat between pieces of bread or stuffing it into pita for centuries (or even millennia) before the 4th Earl of Sandwich “invented the sandwich.” In any case, he deserves credit for giving it a name in the English-speaking world.

It’s time to get a sandwich.

Earl of Sandwich at the Disneyland Resort

Photo by Chris Bales, 2018

Architectural features from Compass Books, but with a different color scheme

Earl of Sandwich at the Disneyland Resort

Photo by Chris Bales, 2018

Entrance

Earl of Sandwich at the Disneyland Resort

Photo by Chris Bales, 2018

Menu board

Earl of Sandwich at the Disneyland Resort

Photo by Chris Bales, 2018

Pick a sandwich

In homage to John Montagu, perhaps you’ll want to order The Original 1762, a hot sandwich with roasted beef, cheddar, and horseradish sauce. Or maybe try The Full Montagu, with roasted beef, turkey, Swiss, cheddar, lettuce, Roma tomato, and mustard sauce.

Want something more modern? Then how about the Chipotle Chicken Avocado, featuring grilled chicken, bacon, cheddar, avocado, lettuce, and chipotle sauce.

Earl of Sandwich at the Disneyland Resort

Photo by Chris Bales, 2018

“Order Here”

It’s time to place your order. The wall is lined with books. Is this homage to Compass Books?

Earl of Sandwich at the Disneyland Resort

Photo by Chris Bales, 2018

Interior

Earl of Sandwich at the Disneyland Resort

Photo by Chris Bales, 2018

Outdoor dining

Enjoy your sandwich on the patio. Savor your sandwich and watch people running from the hotels to the parks—as horseradish sauce, mustard sauce, or chipotle sauce drips onto your hands.


The official grand opening of Earl of Sandwich at the Disneyland Resort was November 2, 2012, using the space where Compass Books had closed permanently March 31, 2012.

An earlier attempt to establish an Earl of Sandwich in California failed—opening in Valencia in late 2006 and closing after less than two years.

Earl of Sandwich at Walt Disney World

Photo by Werner Weiss, 2013

Earl of Sandwich at Walt Disney World

Earl of Sandwich at Walt Disney World

Photo by Werner Weiss, 2013

Inside Earl of Sandwich at Walt Disney World

In 2012, the sandwich chain’s only California location was at the Disneyland Resort —but that was its third Disney location. The first Earl of Sandwich anywhere in the world opened at Walt Disney World in 2004 at what was then Downtown Disney Marketplace and is now Disney Springs. The second Disney location opened at Disneyland Paris’ Disney Village in 2011. Both are still open.

The final day of operation for Earl of Sandwich at the Disneyland Resort was June 26, 2018. The restaurant had been well-liked and popular. At the time of its closing, TripAdvisor ranked it at an impressive number 9 of 753 restaurants in Anaheim.

Fans of the Earl’s hot and cold sandwiches could still get them at 30 remaining locations in the United States (including four in California) and the one in France.

Olympic Pool at the Disneyland Hotel

From the collection of Don Ballard, circa 1970

Olympic-size swimming pool at the Disneyland Hotel

Earl of Sandwich at the Disneyland Resort

Photo by Werner Weiss, 2015

Looking from Earl of Sandwich to the Disneyland Hotel

What do the two photos above have in common?

They were taken from roughly the same spot, around 45 years apart.

The site of Earl of Sandwich was once part of the Disneyland Hotel. It was demolished in 1999 to become the western end of Downtown Disney. And now this part of Downtown Disney had closed—to once again be the site of a hotel. It would be a 700-room luxury hotel. At least that was the plan.

New 700-room hotel at the Disneyland Resort, artist concept only

© Disney / Artist Concept Only

Rendering of a new hotel, announced for 2021, between Downtown Disney and the Disneyland Hotel

But there was no demolition crew during the summer of 2018. By mid-August, plans for the hotel were on hold due to a feud between The Walt Disney Company and officials of Anaheim over tax breaks and obligations under earlier agreements.

The “hold” allowed a small miracle. Earl of Sandwich quietly reopened Monday, October 1, 2018.

The following week, on October 10, 2018, Disney officials announced, “We’ve taken the time to review the economics of our proposed Four Diamond hotel for Anaheim and have made the final decision to cancel the project.” The hotel was dead, at least for the time being.

Earl of Sandwich at the Disneyland Resort in October 2018

Photo by Wener Weiss, 2018

Reopened Earl of Sandwich in October 2018

Earl of Sandwich at the Disneyland Resort in October 2018

Photo by Wener Weiss, 2018

Food trucks near Earl of Sandwich

The neighbors of Earl of Sandwich remain closed. When a business has had its interior ripped out, it’s much harder to reopen. Tables under the canopy of the AMC Theaters and parked food trucks nearby bring some life to the area, but it’s hard to hide so many shuttered tenants of Downtown Disney.

It’s seems likely that Disney will eventually build a fourth hotel in Anaheim, but not necessarily at the same location. It reamins to be seen what will happen to Earl of Sandwich and its defunct neighbors.

No matter what the future holds, do you think there will be a place to get a good, reasonably priced sandwich?


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Updated October 10, 2018.