Subway making little headway in Teaneck

Subway making little headway in Teaneck

TEANECK – With kosher franchises recently opened in Los Angeles, Michigan, and Livingston, Subway is looking for a home in Teaneck. But township resident Aaron Dobrinsky, who has the Livingston franchise, has been negotiating for almost a year to open one at 1400 Palisade Ave., which houses Pasta Factory and Goodmans True Value Hardware.

"There are some issues and conditions from the township that the franchisee and landlord are working on," said Yogesh Dave in Subway’s New Jersey development office. The landlord has gone through a preliminary hearing process and made changes in proposed parking plans, he said.

Goodmans occupies a 1,900-square-foot space connected to the Pasta Factory. The hardware store will close its doors at the end of the month, and owner Fred Wenzler would like to see part of the space go to the kosher Subway.

Goodmans True Value Hardware, 1400 Palisade Ave., will close at the end of the month. The building owner hopes to fill part of the space with a kosher Subway restaurant.

"It’ll be a much-needed improvement in the area for drawing residents and customers from other areas," he said on Tuesday. Pasta Factory, which shares the Goodmans’ space, will be unaffected by any changes. The rest of the store will be divided among other tenants, which Wenzler said would include a technology center and possibly a bookstore.

The debate now, as Dobrinsky understands it, is between the building department and the landlord. Goodmans has only 48 parking spots, which Wenzler said has been of concern to the board.

"There’s only so much parking available," he said. "I can’t provide any more." According to Wenzler, the township’s planning board will take up the issue again on Jan. 10, when he hopes it will be resolved. January will mark 11 months since the process began, a fact that bewilders Wenzler.

A representative of the planning board declined comment when reached last week.

Meanwhile, Wenzler and Dobrinsky wait. Subway, however, decided to give Dobrinsky another chance.

After studying the demographics, the sandwich franchiser turned to Dobrinsky to transform an existing location in Livingston into a kosher franchise. He began the kashering process in late August and the restaurant — the fifth kosher Subway in the country — opened last month. The response has been "fantastic," Dobrinsky said, giving him hope for success in Bergen County.

Even as Sammy’s Deli, the existing kosher restaurant most similar to Subway, expands its location at 1435 Queen Anne Road just a few hundred yards away, Dobrinsky considered the Palisade Avenue location ideal. Subway officials had conducted saturation and demographic studies before deciding on the location, he said, and they concluded that the area could sustain the franchise.

"They and I believe the Teaneck market will be a great market for a kosher Subway," he said.

He cited differences between the Subway menu and the fare offered at Sammy’s. "It’s not a typical deli sandwich you’re ordering," he said of the Subway menu. Calls to Sammy’s Deli were not returned by press time.

Dobrinsky, who runs the Teaneck-based management consulting firm DMI, wanted to bring the franchise to New Jersey after visiting the kosher Subway in Cleveland. Although he has been an adviser to public and private companies through DMI, Subway marks his first foray into the restaurant business.

The Livingston location uses meats from myriad vendors including Aaron’s and Meal Mart. The local one would operate in the same way, with certification by the Rabbinical Council of Bergen County.

Mayor Elie Katz, who is a co-owner of Chopstix, a kosher Chinese take-out restaurant here, compared the hype to when Dunkin’ Donuts opened a kosher store. "This is a novelty to have a kosher Subway, a nationally recognized kosher franchise. I’m hopeful that every merchant in town is successful. It would help complement our town."

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