Jan 14, 2013
by JEFF SPRY CBN Feature Writer
Handcrafting East Coast-style sandwiches for twenty years, New York City Sub Shops in Bend heap on the sliced meats, cheese and veggie toppings for a healthy, fast food experience second to none.
Mustachioed owner Andrew Deenik has been serving up these savory creations in Central Oregon since 1993 and feels the recipe to longevity and success is keeping things simple.
From its humble High Desert beginnings, to a current roster of five stores in Oregon and Wyoming, Deenik is staying the course and living the life. In addition to two locations in Bend, New York City Subs also operates in Redmond, Hood River and Jackson Hole, Wyoming.
“Every one of our shops have these themed murals done by artist Greta Gretzinger, many of them depicting trains carrying delicious subs out West,” Deenik laughed. “We were up to eight shops and now we’re down to five which is more manageable as we’re heading into our silver years.”
“What’s neat about our customer base is that they’re healthy, happy, outdoor people who choose towns like Jackson Hole, Bend and Hood River on purpose for their enviable lifestyles. We see how the customers travel between the shop for vacation, work and play. We’ve consistently kept to our original offerings. The menu you see in the stores date back to the ‘80s. We’ve added a few new items over the years but we’ve kept the same high quality deli cuts from the beginning.”
And in food service that’s a difficult task to accomplish. Suppliers come and go while trying to give customers a consistent product.
“Ask any one of our customers and they’ll tell you the cheesesteaks taste the same way they did back in ‘93.”
Deenik lives full time in Hood River and spends three days a week in Bend, closely integrated into the community and High Desert way of life.
“I’ve driven back and forth every week since 1993 and that’s tens of thousands of miles. I love Bend and ride my mountain bike after work in the summer and Nordic ski at Virginia Meissner Park in the winter. We engage with the town all the time, donating sandwiches to all sorts of events and functions. I’m a huge supporter of volunteers so I like to feed them for free. “I take care of my employees and try to retain good people, who are the day to day reflection of your business. Customers like that friendly hometown feel.”
The stores’ favorite subs by far are the Philly Cheesesteak, the lean turkey sub called The Bronx and their Italian coldcut sandwich, The Manhattan.
“We serve all of our subs hot off the grill or cold on Italian bread that we bake daily. We also have salads, chili and a hot soup line for the winter, serving up recipes like Loaded Baked Potato and Chicken Enchilada.”
The first New York City Sub Shop was born in Jackson Hole, Wyoming in 1985. Bruce Tlougan is the president and founder who started in a tiny 110-square-foot store in the shadow of the Tetons. Deenik was one of their first employees, happily delivering subs around town on a bike.
Deenik eventually moved to Hood River in 1989 to become vice president and run the second shop where he’s lived the past 24 years.
“We opened in downtown Bend on Wall Street next to the Tower Theatre,” he said. “It was 600 square feet, takeout only, not one chair. That was due to the high cost of doing business in Bend. Then it moved to its current Bond Street location across from the Deschutes Brewery in 1998.”
Before setting up shop here, he and Tlougan would meet in Bend to ski, kayak and bike. In the fall of 1992 they talked about opening a sub place.
“We were eating dinner at the brewery and came out one night and walked downtown and happened by the old Liberty Theater building with a For Rent sign in the window. Bruce was flying out the next day so we wrote a $500 check with a note saying we’d like to rent the space and put the envelope under the door. I dropped him off in Portland and the rest is history.”
Deenik believes a main reason for the huge success of the downtown sub shop is his present manager of 20 years, Jin Gabriel.
“She’s the fastest cook and most committed. She’ll know your name and sub by heart when you walk in.”
Deenik’s secret business formula is surprisingly uncomplicated.
“Wake up, bake bread from scratch, cut all the meats and veggies fresh daily,” he listed off. “Get quarters and dollar bills from the bank. Put apron on, serve customers, clean, close and repeat. That’s it. That’s all we do.
“A New York sub should be a simple, cold cut or steak sandwich with classic mozzarella or provolone cheese,” he explained. “And it’s gotta be made on a classic hoagy roll. It should be made fast and served with sweet banana peppers to give it that distinctive East Coast taste. The extra twist is making it to order on our sizzling flattop grill.”
New York City Sub’s long-term goals are to keep the product honest and the service happy.
“We want to keep up with the times and be faithful to our clientele for another twenty years or more,” said Deenik. “We hope to serve you soon.”
In Central Oregon, New York City Sub Shops are located at 1043 NW Bond St. and 740 NE Third St. in Bend and 946 SW Veterans Way in Redmond. For more info visit them online at newyorkcitysubshop.com or follow them on Facebook for monthly giveaways, soup schedules and mystery deals.