Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Sub Shop Brings Taste of Jersey Shore to the Landing; Demola's Jersey Subs Aims to Serve 'Corporate Lunch Crowd' with Unique Style of Sandwich

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Sub Shop Brings Taste of Jersey Shore to the Landing; Demola's Jersey Subs Aims to Serve 'Corporate Lunch Crowd' with Unique Style of Sandwich

Article excerpt

Byline: DIANA MIDDLETON

For years, restaurateur Al Demola lived for summers in Seaside Heights, N.J. On the 70-mile stretch between Asbury Park and Cape May, the boardwalk teemed with games of chance, rows of garish stuffed animals and dozens of seaside snack shacks hawking foot-long hot dogs and sausage sandwiches.

The boardwalk fare inspired him to bring the same flavor to Jacksonville. And while the St. Johns River may not be the same Atlantic Ocean frothing on the Jersey Shore, Demola is counting on that waterside formula to fuel his latest venture: Demola's Jersey Subs, which had its May 10 opening on the ground floor of The Jacksonville Landing.

After dabbling in Italian and Southern barbecue eateries (the latter with a tomato-based sauce recipe he won in a game of checkers), Demola settled in Clearwater to open Mr. D's, a sub shop with a twist: decadent snacks straight from the Jersey Shore. Think foot-long hot dogs crowned with onions and smeared with ketchup alongside hot roast beef dripping with gravy.

But it was his frequent hurricane evacuations in Clearwater that introduced him to Jacksonville, where he says he saw a big hole in the lunchtime market.

"We couldn't get a decent sandwich in Jacksonville," he said. "We knew we had to come here."

Demola's family packed their bags for Jacksonville in December and opened the first location at 6426 Bowden Road on Valentine's Day.

After tweaking the prototype menu he developed at his Clearwater locations, Demola says the store churned out more than 600 sandwiches a day, mostly to office types from the neighboring corporate parks, but also to customers who waxed nostalgic about their own Seaside Heights summer vacations.

Hungry for another location, Demola started sniffing for ideal expansion sites. He passed over the strip malls he usually scouts, deciding that the Landing was the perfect place to start.

It took some effort, however, to convince Toney Sleiman, owner of the Landing.

"I didn't think another sub place was a good fit for the Landing," Sleiman said.

A taste test convinced Sleiman otherwise, and he signed a lease in April.

For Demola, the proof is in each sandwich's details, like freshly flaked tuna salad spiked with vinegar and Demola's personal favorite: Italian sausage sprinkled with sauteed green peppers and a medley of "top-secret" spices. …

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