WAIMEA — A Westside entrepreneur has brought Subway back to Waimea.
After 18 years at the same location, the Subway franchise at 4493 Moana Road at Kaumualii Highway closed for nearly a year. Subway returns with one full-time and nine part-time jobs after a Koloa ice cream shop owner bought into the franchise.
“We’re back!” said Waimea Subway owner Marn Zeeb. “I hired all new employees and we did a soft opening in September.”
Zeeb kept the store in the same historic Yamase Building, with its rounded front and second-story balcony. Built in 1921, the wooden commercial building was rebuilt following Hurricane Iniki and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Inside, the store has been updated to meet Subway’s latest décor model. The original Subway equipment was dated and Zeeb took everything out and remodeled with all new equipment.
“It’s a new store with new equipment and a new attitude,” he said. “These are sandwiches served with aloha.”
The business transaction and the permitting went smoothly because there was a previous Subway. Before Subway would approve Zeeb as a franchisee, he had to complete the corporate program in Athens, Georgia.
As a lifelong businessman, Zeeb said he was surprised, and a little embarrassed, about how much he learned.
“The education I got from Subway school will benefit me in all business aspects for the rest of my life,” Zeeb said. “It’s geared to train the owners to succeed and to run a profitable business.”
Zeeb was attracted to Subway as a business with the whole “eat fresh mentality.” It is an affordable alternative for the community, he said, but it is also a healthier fast food.
People may assume that a franchise gets all their produce prepared, but vegetables are prepped daily at the store, he said. They bake the bread daily as well.
“It does start out frozen but there is a lot more to it than that,” he said. “I didn’t realize that the bread making is an overnight process to make them perfect.”
Subway subcontracts with a local food wholesaler to provide products for all island Subway stores.
The store is a popular for people on their way to Waimea Canyon and Polihale Beach.
“This is the westernmost Subway in the United States,” Zeeb said, although he pointed out there is another one just down the road at Pacific Missile Range Facility which is farther west but not open to the public.
Zeeb retired from the automobile industry after 17 years. His last position before moving to Kauai six years ago was as general sales manager of Wilsonsville Chevrolet in Oregon.
“I had visited here so may times and fell in love with it and wanted to make it my home,” Zeeb said.
Zeeb wanted to start a family business and saw an opportunity for Koloa Mill Ice Cream & Coffee when Lappert’s Hawaii moved its store to The Shops at Kukuliula.
He saw the vacancy in the historic Tao Building as a destination spot, and opened the store on Oct. 10, 2010 —10/10/10.
“It’s been going great,” he said. “The numbers improve every year, dramatically. The community in Koloa appreciates us and we are huge supporters of community and school events.”
Subway’s grand opening event will be Saturday.
The store is open seven days a week, from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Saturday, and 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.