Thursday, August 24, 2023

Blimpies Sub Sandwiches

 



BLIMPIES

I"I MISS YOU GUYS"

I MISS The SUBS



    "I Miss BLIMPIE'S" Yes I do. I first discovered Blimpie's when I was a teenager growing up in 1970s New Jersey, Blimpie's made tasty Sub Sandwiches that were quite affordable. They had a wide selection of Sandwiches to choose from, but my favorite and just about only way to go was with a Blimpie Best or similar Italian-Style Combo Sandwich that was made with Ham, Salami, and Provolone Cheese, and topped with shredded Lettuce, Onions, and sliced Tomatoes, dressed with Oil & Vinegar and seasoned with Salt, Pepper, and dried Oregano. The Sandwiches always pleased. They were very consitent, the Sandwiches always tasted the same, which is a good thing, because you always knew what you were getting. You oredered the sandwich you liked, and alwasys tasted the same., and that's not easy to do. Well they didn't have to cook anything, so it was pretty simple. The Bread, Meat Products, and Cheese were always the exact same on any Sandwich you ordered. The only way they could possibly screw up was with the seasonings of Salt, Pepper, Oil & Vinegar, and Oregano. But the empoyees were well versed and they usually did a good job. I never any complaints. I always loved my sandwiches, and was never disappointed. Not once. I nver really thought about it before, but now as I'm writing this little piece I do realized just how Good Blimpie's and their Tasty Sandwiches were. They were Pretty Amazing, come to think of it. I did about. I went, oredered my Sandwich, ate it, enjoyed it, and left, until the next time I had a craving for one, and I did at least once a month or more for years, until the Blimpie that I used to go on 4th Avenue and 13th Street closed, and I couldn't get a Blimpie Sandwich anymore. A sad day it was. I miss them, and I can't stand SUBWAY, I think they SUCK. Their sandwiches are of low quality, and I;d rather have a Blimpie, but I can't. Such is Life. It can be cruel at times. And the fact I can't eat a Blimpie Sandwich anymore, I'd say is a bit sad, but what can I do? Reminisce, that's about all I can do.

Basta !!!


DBZ




As if it were an old, reclusive celebrity, a coworker asked, "Does Blimpie's still exist?" Yes, yes, Blimpie is still alive and, presumably, well. At the very least, there are still plenty in NYC. While we associate the sandwich franchise with 1990s strip malls, did you know one of the first shops opened here in the 1960s? Here it is, your short and probably totally unnecessary history of Blimpie.


First of all, Blimpie is called that because one of the founders, Tony Conza, didn't like the sounds of "subs." Conza, along Peter DeCarlo and Angelo Bandassare, opened their first shop in Hoboken in 1964, and apparently people in the area weren't familiar with the term "hoagie," so that was out, too. As the legend goes, Conza found "blimpie" while flipping through a dictionary, and felt it was appropriate. 






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"BLIMPIE"  - A BRIEF HISTORY


Blimpie began its journey on the Jersey side of the Hudson River when 3 high school pals teamed up after graduation to develop it with $2,500 in funding, They opened the first Blimpie at the corner of Seventh and Washington Streets in Hoboken, N.J., according to NJ.com.

The year was 1964, and Blimpie didn't want to sound like just another submarine sandwich company — a factor that factored into its name. Scouring a dictionary, Blimpie's young brain trust was quickly drawn to the word '"blimp" and the accompanying picture that they felt resembled the bread of a submarine sandwich (per QSR).

The ship-to-sub comparison was apt enough for founders Tony Conza, Peter DeCarlo, and Angelo Baldassare, who approved a name that would see the company long past its first location. That being said, Blimpie's first sandwich shop no longer exists. 

Blimpie's ideological foundation was first laid out during a party conversation between founders Tony Conza, Peter DeCarlo, and Angelo Baldassare in Jersey City, N.J. According to the New York Times, the atmosphere and accompanying drinks catalyzed a brainstorm of business ideas. Unsure of what kind of venture to start, the future Blimpie founders tossed around concepts until they eventually settled on the idea of a sandwich shop.

Blimpie's belief that this concept could work was backed by the success of Mike's Submarines in Point Pleasant, N.J., a place that was typically bursting with patronage. Intrigued by its popularity, Blimpie's founders performed some culinary espionage by eating some of Mike's Subs. Impressed by what they ate, they opened their own sandwich shop in a similar vein. Mimicking their mentor proved a sage choice, as both sandwich chains still exist today. There is one exception, though — Mike's Submarines is now known as Jersey Mike's.

Long before "move fast and break things" became a popular startup motto, Blimpie was stirring up dust and drywall in the 1960s. Aggressively gunning for expansion, the founders of Blimpie exploded their base readily. By 1967, they had successfully expanded into Manhattan, with 10 Blimpies already churning out hoagie-style Subs.

Four of these franchises were owned by founders Tony Conza and Peter DeCarlo, and although it may not sound like much in our age of easy venture capital, running 4 Blimpies back then proved more than Conza and DeCarlo could handle.

Unable to keep lightning in the bottle without a formal business education, Conza and DeCarlo were flying by the seat of their pants. Per the New York Times, Conza and DeCarlo "admitted they weren't skilled businessmen." As it turned out, they were "incautious about the costs of goods and employee salaries."

Conza and DeCarlo would bend but would not fold, selling all 4 Blimpies they personally owned. They shifted their focus on building back Blimpie's bottom line through franchising.


In 1976 BLIMPIE SPLIT Into TWO COMPANIES


It's tough to keep even the best teams together, and the Blimpie crew was no exception. Citing a difference in opinion, as DeCarlo wanted to keep Blimpie East Coast and Conza wanted to expand southward, the original founders decided to reform Blimpie into 2 distinct companies under the same trademark. 

It was decided DeCarlo would run Blimpie Metropolitan and retain control of the majority of Blimpie's New York, New Jersey, and East Coast locations. Conza would head the original company, but renamed it International Blimpie Corporation while crafting a new imprint. Conza relished the opportunity and quickly franchised Blimpies "wherever there was interest," according to the New York Times. Conza would eventually admit the error of his ways, and over the years, many of those locations damaged the brand before closing down. They allegedly drove customers up the wall with filthy bathrooms and discordant employees.


Blimpie went public in 1983


In the blur of Blimpie's forced growth throughout the 70s and 80s, they also sought public investment. Blimpie's rise was rapid, but stores were closing rapidly as well (via Reference for Business). It's clear the underwriter held reservations, as Blimpie's initial public offering debuted at 90 cents per share — an unpromising number, even when adjusted for inflation. It served as a flashing indicator that the 80s would bring turbulent times for this blimp-inspired brand.

Blimpie's aggressive expansion also resulted in marks against sanitation. Founder Tony Conza's loose approach to franchising led to undisciplined franchisees and resulted in a massive identity crisis for the Blimpie brand. According to the New York Times, Blimpie had such "renegade owners" who flouted their business formula that some bad actors even sold Chinese food and pizza. However, there was a silver lining — these maverick moves were also a cry for help, begging Blimpie to expand its menu. It became an idea it pursued in the following decade.

If you've ever wondered why Subway is so enormous, a big part of that may be Blimpie's decision to pump the brakes on its best product in the 1980s: the sub sandwich.

As Subway made moves in the submarine sandwich sector, Blimpie pivoted toward a sit-down restaurant idea that became the Border Cafe (via the New York Times). It was a short-lived endeavor that hemorrhaged funds shortly after striking ground in Manhattan. Although Border Cafe's initial numbers were promising, not even former New York Yankee great Dave Winfield could save them as a partial owner (via Reference for Business). However, that was the small problem. The big problem? Blimpie gave Subway an inch and it took a mile. It padded a sandwich-selling lead that only grew wider and would never again be threatened by Blimpie.

If you've ever wondered why Subway is so enormous, a big part of that may be Blimpie's decision to pump the brakes on its best product in the 1980s: the sub sandwich.

As Subway made moves in the submarine sandwich sector, Blimpie pivoted toward a sit-down restaurant idea that became the Border Cafe (via the New York Times). It was a short-lived endeavor that hemorrhaged funds shortly after striking ground in Manhattan. Although Border Cafe's initial numbers were promising, not even former New York Yankee great Dave Winfield could save them as a partial owner (via Reference for Business). However, that was the small problem. The big problem? Blimpie gave Subway an inch and it took a mile. It padded a sandwich-selling lead that only grew wider and would never again be threatened by Blimpie.



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