A Blimpie sub eatery has landed at Blackmon Village Center, a strip shopping center on Blackmon Road off J.R. Allen Parkway.
The deli, which had a soft opening Sunday, is up and running at full strength Monday, said Keith Hammond, a local real-estate agent who also has owned the Blimpie in Hamilton, Ga., just north of Columbus, for about a decade.
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“We want to offer a higher quality product at a good price point,” said Hammond, who lives in Harris County but has a ReMax office on Veterans Parkway in Columbus. “I think we’re neck and neck with Subway in terms of price. I’m obviously biased. I would say our quality is a little better because we slice everything fresh. But there are people that like both and there’s plenty of sandwich love to go around.”
Hammond said his Hamilton outlet has developed “quite a fan base” and is consistently in the top 10 in the Blimpie system nationwide. That helped him make the decision to enter Columbus, which once had a handful of stores under another franchise owner, with those eventually closing.
The average ticket sale at the Hamilton location is about $6.25, he said, and the menu pricing will be the same at the Columbus deli. The menu includes cold and hot subs, wraps and panini grilled subs. Catering also is offered.
An adjacent building to the strip center inhabited by Blimpie features the Trevioli Italian Kitchen restaurant that should open its doors by mid-April. A Walmart Neighborhood Market and fuel station is next door, and a Home Ace Hardware store is now coming out of the ground nearby.
Hammond said the Blimpie in Hamilton, the Harris County seat, has been successful because the community has embraced it in general and due to the fact that the busy courthouse is right across the street in a small town with few food options at lunch time. The building in which he once operated his private real-estate company also has a big front porch.
“When they spill out of (the courthouse) for lunch, we have a beautiful front porch that you can come hang out on,” he said. “You don’t necessarily have to eat. You can just hang out on the porch until it’s time to go back. Or if you’re an attorney that’s got to meet your clients, you can meet them over there. We’ve developed quite a following through that process.”
The businessman said he and his wife also have embraced the community over the past two decades, raising four children and sending them to Harris County schools. They’ve supported local athletic programs and employ plenty of high school kids at the deli.
“It’s a hometown, community operation,” he said. “I think if we were absentee owners, it wouldn’t do so well.”
Hammond also said he’s not done adding more Blimpie restaurants in the area, with the possibility of another off Highway 315 in Harris County and a second one in Columbus.
“We’re up in the air right now about how fast that is going to occur,” he said. “I’d like to see that happen in the next 12 months. Obviously, we’ve got to get rolling with the new one. Then we’ll see. We’ll see what development is at what stage as we cross that bridge.”
Founded in 1964, Scottsdale, Ariz.-based Blimpie now has about 400 locations in the U.S. and abroad.