CROSS RIVER, N.Y. – South Salem resident Bruce Reitman just wasn’t busy enough. Even though he already owned two businesses, he was still looking for something more to do.
So, with no prior restaurant experience, Reitman, along with his partner Edward Specht, decided to open a Subway sandwich shop at the Orchard Square shopping center in Cross River.
“My wife thought I was nuts. She said, ‘You don’t know anything about this,’ ” Reitman recalled.
Reitman, who has lived in town for 19 years, also owns a pharmaceutical employment agency and a collection agency (where he also partners with Specht).
“So I was already spread kind of thin,” he said with a laugh. “But I was looking for something more to do and I thought I would investigate franchises.”
Reitman decided to attend a Subway franchise seminar in North Haven, Conn., not necessarily with the intent of starting a business, but to learn more about franchising. However, he had noticed that several storefronts were available in the Orchard Square shopping center, which he thought would make an ideal location for a Subway shop.
“The only thing that I wished would happen is that the shopping center be remodeled,” he said. “And then it was. I took that as a sign.”
As it turns out, the folks at Subway agreed with Reitman that Orchard Square would make an ideal place for one of their stores. It was on the list of possible locations they presented to him at the seminar. To Reitman, it seemed the planets were aligning. He decided to open the store.
Reitman admits that Lewisboro is not a town known for its fast-food franchises and that, in fact, many frown at the idea. He says, however, that Subway is different.
“Everybody loves Subway,” he said. “Even though it’s a franchise, it’s more like a deli. I think (the town) needed this. It’s not a McDonald's. It’s not a threat to anyone.”
As a new store owner, Reitman had to go through a lot of training to learn how to run the shop. He said it was an eye-opening experience.
“I didn’t realize how good the quality is,” he said. “The turkey is real turkey, the ham is ham, and the roast beef is roast beef. Everything is what it is.”
Since he opened two weeks ago, Reitman said, the community reaction has been overwhelmingly positive.
“The community has really opened its arms and have told us how much this is needed,” he said. “The store helps to further spruce up the shopping center, and everyone is happy we are here.”