Ten months after it was gutted by fire, Sub Shop on Richmond Highway is back in business.
It still sells a few convenience items, but this shop has a new name and a new direction. Owner Lawrence Reese has renamed it Sub Shop Old Fashioned Sandwiches and the emphasis is now on Reese’s first love – food.
The shop opened in July 2009 as Sub Shop Convenient Store and did an “unbelievable” business, Reese said. He remembers closing as usual the night of June 7, 2010, but a few hours later, fire began in the dentist’s office next door and spread to Sub Shop.
Reese rushed to the store from his home in Lorton, but it was too late. Already recovering from a serious illness, the next thing he knew, he was so overcome he had to be treated in an ambulance.
“It was a horrible blow,” Reese said, but he never doubted he would rebuild. And on April 1, Sub Shop reopened, serving up a variety of sandwiches and fried chicken.
“I couldn’t think of another way to come back” Reese said, adding that his goal is to “provide good food and a good atmosphere.”
The Sub Shop is the culmination of a dream for Reese, 51, after a lifetime of work in the food industry and other parts of the service sector, including driving a limousine and owning a clothing store. He moved to Virginia in 1994 from New York for a fresh start after his mother died. Lorton beckoned from Interstate 95.
In addition to indulging his passion for food, the father of five sees the Sub Shop as a way to be a positive influence in his community. Three of his children work in the shop. Youths are told to pull up their baggy pants and use proper English when ordering, for example. He tries to get young people into the shop by offering affordable items such as $1.99 chicken tender wraps. It works; on his first Sunday afternoon since re-opening, three hungry young men ate seven wraps and three hot dogs between them.
The shop is still a work in progress even with over $400,000 in repairs, Reese said. He is putting a lot of emphasis on the patio area and trying to find the right mix of furniture, for example.
“We’re on our way,” he said. “We’re walking down a different path.” By that he means doing everything out in the open. Reese said he hid his food preparation in the convenience store, but now he is fully licensed and certified.
The Sub Shop draws customers from the nearby Williamsburg Square community as well as a doctor’s office and thrift store in the same plaza. He also has been handing out fliers everywhere and hopes to advertise on television to let people know that Sub Shop is open again.
“We are so blessed to be back,” Reese said.
Sub Shop Old Fashioned Sandwiches, 9504 Richmond Highway, 703-372-2272, Open daily 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. Prices: Chicken tender wraps sell for $1.99, 6-inch subs start at $3.49, sandwiches range from $3.99 to $7.99 for a cheesesteak made with Angus beef, fried chicken meals start at $5, 12-inch cheese pizza for $7.99. Breakfast sandwiches and a coffee sell for $3.
Owner’s favorites: The signature sandwich, which is hot roast beef and mozzarella cheese on Texas Toast garlic bread with lettuce, tomato and ranch dressing; tuna fish; steak and cheese and of course, his fried chicken.