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Econ 919 — Subs for sale

Sabine Poux
After 27 years, Chris Fallon and Kathy Musick are looking for new owners for their business.

Depending on where you’re from on the East Coast, you’ll probably call them something different: "subs" or "hoagies," maybe, or "heroes" or "grinders."

Chris Fallon doesn’t really care what you call them. He’s a co-owner of Jersey Subs, which has locations in Kenai, Soldotna and Kasilof.

He said what matters in a good sandwich are the ingredients.

“Basically, it’s the hard Italian roll,” Fallon said. “You gotta age your dough. So we make our own bread. And good meats and cheeses.”

He gets his meat from New Jersey.

“Then you gotta put the right amount of oil, vinegar and oregano on there,” he said. “To make a good Italian hoagie. And capocollo and pepperoncinis and banana peppers.”

Fallon and co-owner Kathy Musick been serving up authentic New Jersey-style sandwiches at Jersey Subs for 27 years. And now, he said, it’s time to retire.

“We’ve been thinking of selling it for about five years,” he said. “Kind of go in and out, like off the market. But we’ve had a lot of interest lately. Like a lot. But nothing came through yet.”

Fallon grew up on sandwiches in Lawrenceville, N.J.

“The best one was the Italian hoagie,” Fallon said. “From the Bossio's Deli."

Jersey Subs has a sandwich called "The Bossio" in honor of the Lawrenceville spot.

Fallon spent some years in Arizona running a landscaping business and then came up to Alaska when he heard there were jobs cleaning up after the Exxon Valdez oil spill.

Only problem was he couldn’t find a job once he got here. He said he got stuck.

“But it’s a nice place to be stuck,” he said.

That's when he met Musick, who's originally from Oregon.

Fallon said he missed the Italian hoagies back east. So the duo bought a bus and started slinging sandwiches from the side of the road in Kenai.

At the beginning, business wasn’t good.

“Terrible. It was terrible,” he said. “We didn’t make much money. People see a bus on the side of the road and they drove right by. I think the first winter, we stayed out there in Kasilof on the corner for a while. We had icicles hanging off the bus, the mirror. And we were in there with bunny boots, trying to keep warm with the propane, trying to sell cold sandwiches. I think we grossed $35 one day. And that was it. So it was time to call it quits for the year.”

They’re doing much better today. Jersey Subs has three locations, and for almost a decade, the bus at the Kasilof location was a reminder of the shop’s humble roots. Each location has a different menu of foot-long sandwiches.

The shop has survived the keto fad and seems to be weathering the increasing popularity of gluten-free diets, too. Fallon said sometimes that’s a problem, since they don’t bake gluten free bread. But he said it’s not for lack of trying to find a good recipe

Business is especially booming in the summer, including at the Kasilof location, which sees more anglers and tourists.

So, here's Fallon's pitch.

He's offering all the stores together for $625,000. Separately, it will be $325,000 for Soldotna and $325,000 for Kenai plus Kasilof.

Fallon estimates the Soldotna location makes about half a million a year, while Kenai and Kasilof together do the same. In the summer, the Soldotna store makes about $2,000 a day, he said. Kenai and Kasilof make about $3,000/

He said it's a lot of fun seeing employees come and go, and grow up and have kids of their own. He loves that part of the business.

But twenty-seven years is a long time.

“That’s why it’s for sale,” Fallon said. “We need some young blood.”

Fallon said he doesn’t plan on going anywhere. He said he’ll still be local for guidance and to jump on the grill anytime necessary to sling subs, or hoagies — whatever you'd like to call them.

Sabine Poux is a producer and reporter for the Brave Little State podcast of Vermont Public. She was formerly news director and evening news host at KDLL in Kenai.

Originally from New York, Sabine has lived and reported in Argentina and Vermont and Kenai.
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