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Bites Nearby: Tommy's Sub Shop

Tommy's is no franchise sub shop, and the difference shows

The submarine sandwich, it seems, has learned a lot from the pizza, carefully marketing its oblong roll filled with meat and cheese and vegetables; diversifying its selections; perfecting its catchy sub shop names; jingling its specials into our heads.

, 7671 Mentor Ave., is an old-fashioned, independently owned shop that serves its hot and cold sandwiches without national marketing campaigns. Three and a half years in business proves the sub market is not yet saturated. Tommy's is unique to Mentor.

"I actually majored in journalism at OU (Ohio University) and had the opportunity to open the shop because some family was up here," said Shane Sadler, the owner from southern Ohio who now lives in Concord Township. "I've always wanted to own my own business and chose subs because they're pretty straightforward. I didn't have a lot of experience cooking so it's something I could do. Subs are more about presentation."

Sadler said the Philly Cheesesteak and Italian subs ($5.75 each for 7-inches) are specialties. A cheeseburger sub, same price, is original. Who needs a footlong when you can get 14 inches, which is Tommy's larger sub size? Those range from $8.75 to $10.

With 17 hot subs, 10 cold subs and four Philly's, Tommy's offers a bit more variety than your standard sandwich board menu.

Salads, soups, and sides — like pasta, potato and macaroni salad — are standard sub shop fare. Wraps, for $5.29, are also offered with turkey, chicken or roast beef, among others.

Tommy's also offers a catering menu and free delivery to businesses on orders of $15 ore more. Quotes like "The chicken philly is life," and "Tommy's is like the Picasso of subs. Flawless," from regulars are creative compliments.

And then there's Sadler's dry quote, lined with some meaning that conveys his writing background: "You can find a franchise anywhere, but you can only get our subs here."

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