Tonawanda News — KENMORE — Gail Viggato, who grew up on Lincoln Avenue in Kenmore, remembers making frequent stops at Mike’s Subs on Delaware Avenue with her family decades ago.
Even though Viggato and her husband, Chuck, now spend half of the year in Nevada, she still makes sure to visit Mike’s when she is town for the summer. But this year, when she returned to the shop after months of being away, the place looked much different.
“I can’t believe it,” Viggato said. “It looks great.”
She came at a good time — just a couple weeks after the business’s expansion and remodel was completed. Mike’s Subs has taken over more than 1,000 square feet that once belonged to its old neighbor, Elliot Travel Agency, which moved down the block. The restaurant’s storefront has been doubled as part of the project, and the shop is now equipped with a large seating area that can accommodate up to 40 customers.
“The cool part is when people come back, and they come through the rear entrance, and turn they corner, and are like ... whoa, this is very cool,” Bob Bolt, who has owned Mike’s Subs for more than 30 years, said.
Bolt has also expanded the menu to include pizza. He put a lot of work into creating the perfect pies, traveling to Las Vegas for the International Pizza Expo, doing research at Papa John’s and conducting public surveys in the area.
“The first thing I wanted to do was make a really good cheese pizza, and then a really good pepperoni pizza,” He said. “I’m using high quality products ... I didn’t want to be average.”
After he got the basics down, Bolt began experimenting at the request of his employees, who were bored with eating Bolt’s pepperoni pizzas day after day.
Workers encouraged him to model pizzas after some of the classic subs on the menu, and Bolt liked the idea.
The menu now offers a royal pizza, which, like the shop’s sub, has sausage, capicola, lettuce and tomato. There’s also the grilled veggie deluxe pizza, which one of Bolt’s vegetarian employees made instead of her favorite sub.
Other options will also be added soon, Bolt said, including gluten free crust, sheet size pizza, wheat dough and more specialty pizzas.
The addition of pizza to the menu is just one change Bolt has made since purchasing Mike’s Subs in 1981, when cold cuts were the shop’s main stay, and if anything was cooked, it was done in a microwave.
After buying the shop, he added a griller and a fryer, and sales went up. In 1996, he started delivering, and sales went up again.
Bolt is hoping the same will happen again with the introduction of pizza options and the ability for customers to sit and eat. The additional revenue would help pay for the $250,000 he’s put into the building.
He also got a great deal of assistance from his landlord, Nick Sinatra, of Sinatra & Company Real Estate, who put up $100,000 of the cost, paying for the floor, front entrance and ceiling.
“We couldn’t have done it without him, and we are definitely busier,” he said. “I didn’t know what to expect, but this is what I hoped for.”Contact reporter Jessica Bagley at 693-1000 ext. 4150, or follow her on Twitter at @JessicaLBagley