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Super Submarine is toast

By Michelle Corbet
On September 20, 2012

  • The Super Submarine Sandwich Shop, a popular lunch destination for many U of M students, will be closed in the next six months to accommodate a new unnamed project. photo By Chris Wieland | staff

At lunchtime, University of Memphis students and Memphians from all over town form a line, sometimes out the door, in anticipation of the words, "Soft bread? Hard bread?"  
The Super Submarine Sandwich Shop has been a landmark on the Highland strip for close to 40 years, but soon the building "where a foot is a foot" will no longer sit at 614 South Highland.   
"I've heard someone has bought that building and is tearing it down," said Andy Jameson, salesman at Peddler Bike Shop across the street. "It would be a loss of a good lunch. I go there at least once a week."
What Jameson heard - and the rumor that has been floating around Facebook and Twitter - is true.
The connected row of buildings containing the sandwich shop, Southern Meat Market, Whatever smoke shop and several vacant spaces are in the process of being sold to an unknown buyer who plans to tear them down.  
Palmer Brothers, Inc., a commercial real estate firm in Midtown, is processing a contract between the current owners and the unknown buyer.   
"The buyer and seller are under contract," said Kathy Young, bookkeeper for Palmer Brothers. "Tenants have been given notice and a time period of six months, which is a best guess. It will be at least six months - maybe longer. Once the deal is finalized, the buildings will be torn down."
Super Submarine Sandwich Shop's owners said that with such loyal customers, they don't want to leave the Highland area.
"We don't want to move," they said. "We have long-time history. Customers are like friends."
Shelby County Property Assessor Cheyenne Johnson assessed the land on which the buildings sit for $256,500 and the buildings themselves for $437,400.
According to the Shelby County Property Assessors website, the buildings and surrounding land are owned by Harry and Sally Walton and Marion Madison.
Adam Ali, manager of the Z Highland Street Market, said a 92-year-old woman owned the properties. When she died, she left the land and property to her relatives, he said.
Palmer Brothers, Inc. is also managing the sale of the Z market. There are no reports of it being torn down at this time. The market was assessed for $177,000, the land for $40,100.   
An employee of the Shelby County Assessor's Office said the assessed values listed often don't reflect what the property sells for on the real estate market.   
The properties have been for sale for years, Ali said. Whatever and the Z Market have a six-month lease, but the sub shop pays rent on a monthly basis.
"Every month we don't know," the sub shop's owners said. "We never know. They always want to sell, but never got [an] offer."      
Many business owners thought the acquisition may be part of the University's Ten-Year Plan, but Tony Poteet, assistant vice president of campus planning and development, confirmed over a phone call yesterday that it was not.    
"[Those properties] are not in our approved land acquisition area," Poteet said.
Either way, the property is being sold, and the sub shop has to go. Sub shop owners say they are not sure where they will move when their six-month notice is up.
"No idea," they said. "It's not easy [with] no rental space [on Highland]."
Ashley Mullen, alumna, first discovered the shop when she was a nursing student at the U of M. Since graduating in 2005, she has moved to Cordova, but still stops by for a sub as often as she can.
"It's like a town legend," she said. "Any time I get in the [Interstate 240] loop it's close enough for me."
Even if the Super Submarine Sandwich Shop has to move, Mullen and other loyal customers will still be willing to make the drive for their option of "soft bread, hard bread."

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