By Katie Padgett
Located less than five minutes from campus, the small yellow building with red awnings known as Subs ‘n Such is built to please every taste bud.
In operation for 40 years, Subs ‘n Such has its own sweet success story. Owner of Subs ‘n Such, Dean Shimer – a Florida Southern graduate – opened his first Subs ‘n Such location in April of 1977. Shimer once owned seven Subs ‘n Such locations all over Polk County.
Shimer had grown up working in his father’s soda shop in Pennsylvania as a young boy, so to him, owning his own shop was more appealing than continuing on with his accounting job. And it’s a good thing he pursued that dream, because that’s where he met his now co-owner and love of his life, Kay.
Kay Shimer, also a Florida Southern grad, had studied and worked in the horticulture field. Working in a sandwich shop wasn’t something she ever thought that she would do, but she saw it as fun and exciting.
As Kay and Dean’s lives progressed, so did the success of their shops. At this point, one might think the couple would decide to continue growing their business, but the Shimers did the opposite. They had come to the realization that they had too much living to do, to be working 80 hours a week.
The Shimers said they chose having a life over owning several shops, so they scaled down and said they did so with no regrets. That is, except for one. “The only regret I have is that I never franchised,” Shimer said. “Because we are marketable.”
Their business may have dwindled down, but they spent the time they use to spend working, with their children, traveling and enjoying each other’s company.
There is a very prevalent, comfortable, warm feeling to Shimer’s business that anyone can feel when they step inside. From the local business cards lined up in the window, the advertisements for the downtown farmer’s market, sandwiches such as “Miami Jon” named after employees and the way all of the associates – as well as Shimer – slide under the front counter to get to the sandwich-making area.
Subs ‘n Such reminded me of an 80’s song, Jack and Diane. In fact, my parents went on several dates to Subs ‘n Such in the 80’s when they were in high school and recall sitting out front eating chili dogs on the porch. This shop brings nostalgia with its front porch with iron tables and chairs, old fashioned ordering windows, flower boxes and American flags.
Resting in the heart of Dixieland, Subs ‘n Such was created from an old Dairy Queen. Once inside the door, one will find just one lone table, a wrap-around bar with stools, extensive menus on changeable letter boards and an entire chalkboard wall filled colorfully with employee favorites.
At Subs ‘n Such the food opportunities are endless. From hotdogs and hamburgers, to sandwiches, salads, soups, milkshakes and breakfast that is served all day.
Not only is there a wide variety of menu options, but the crowd itself also varies – men in dirty jeans and boots, women in heels, a young mother and son, a college student with a laptop, a man in a full suit, a hair-dresser – all there to enjoy their lunch breaks.
Subs ‘n Such is a popular lunch spot, but keep in mind this is not fast food, and you’ll be thankful it isn’t. Everything is made to order and is incredibly fresh and crisp. Many customers call ahead and grabb their food while others just walk through the door and are greeted and asked “the usual?”
Calling ahead may be your best bet if you’re in a rush, but if you aren’t, pick a stool at the bar and enjoy the view of South Florida Avenue while listening to the 80’s rock music playing over the radio.
Some of the most popular subs are the Philly, the Cuban and the Italian. The Italian and the Miami Jon were piled high with meats and cheeses and any toppings you can imagine, on your choice of French, wheat, white or rye bread. Both were full of flavor and very fresh.
For dessert, I had to try a famous brownie milkshake although I was warned. “You have to try one,” Shimer said. “But I can tell you right now you won’t be able to drink the whole thing.”
He was right. Subs ‘n Such has delicious, rich milkshakes offered in flavors such as brownie, banana, chocolate chip, malt and cappuccino.
While Subs ‘n Such has a very unique, 80’s feel, the most notable thing I noticed about Subs ‘n Such was that Shimer was running a register, taking customer’s orders, making subs, stocking the soda machine and buzzing around the tiny shop doing whatever he could to help while working alongside and laughing with his employees.
The next time you’re looking for a relaxing lunch break, cozy date night, or just simple meal with friends, Subs ‘n Such is sure to please.
Subs ‘n Such has two remaining locations, one in Dixieland at 1008 S. Florida Ave. and the other in Alamo Plaza at 4525 S. Florida Ave. The Dixieland location’s hours are Monday through Saturday from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. and the Alamo Plaza location’s hours are Monday through Saturday from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.