Making his way through a crowd of people waiting for their lunch orders Friday at Sequoia Sandwich Company, Bakersfield's U.S. Congressman Kevin McCarthy called out, "No. 73, did you want that to go?"
McCarthy, the House majority leader-elect, spent two hours delivering sandwiches to tables at the downtown business while wearing a dark green T-shirt with the company's logo, the same attire worn by the other 15 employees.
McCarthy tries to visit local businesses on a quarterly basis to familiarize himself with small business owners' goals and needs.
One customer the congressman served was Cindy Burns, of Bakersfield, who liked that McCarthy was working with the other employees.
"I think he stays connected to the community," she said.
When he brought the gluten-free sandwich she ordered to the table, McCarthy mentioned that his daughter also eats gluten-free foods, Burns said.
Jeff Simpson, co-owner of Sequoia Sandwich Company, said it was "quite a surprise" when McCarthy asked to come work at his restaurant.
However, McCarthy did formerly own a Bakersfield deli -- called Kevin O's -- before running for political office.
"He's only here for today," Simpson said. "But he is instinctive."
LaNae Stafford said McCarthy did seem to be making an effort, and it impressed her.
"He does a good job, so maybe he's not just (tied to) a desk," Stafford said.
While McCarthy said he was making an effort to connect with the needs of small businesses and their owners' struggles with a declining economy, not all customers bought into his participation.
"I think he could go to the homeless shelter and work there," said Cary Blue as she ate her lunch. "That would be a lot better."
Regardless, in honor of the congressman's visit, the Friday special sandwich was The McCarthy, with the same ingredients he used at his own deli.
It includes cracked pepper turkey, cream cheese, marinated artichoke hearts, red onion, tomato, lettuce, dijon mustard and mayo piled onto a ciabatta roll.
McCarthy said some customers did ask him about legislative issues, such as immigration and the military, but the conversations were brief.
The day's activity, he said, was an effort to relate to small businesses.
"I always think this keeps me abreast of the issues," said McCarthy. "... I want an economy that supports small businesses."