Smoky Mountain Sub Shop celebrates 20 years

Offering subs at prices from 1993
Sep 09, 2013
Photo by: DeeAnna Haney Robert Kuhhirte, original owner of Smoky Mountain Sub Shop, bought the restaurant back six months ago with longtime friend Randy O'Quinn.

A popular lunch stop for locals is giving back in a big way this month in celebration of 20 years in business.

Robert Kuhhirte first opened Smoky Mountain Sub Shop Sept. 23, 1993 on the corner of Branner Avenue and Depot Street in Waynesville, strictly selling take-out only as a way to cater to locals.

After 12 years, he opened a second shop, aptly named Smoky Mountain Sub Shop II, in Maggie Valley. But in 2001, he closed the Maggie shop and moved the original restaurant to the current location at 29 Miller Street.

In 2007, Kuhhirte sold the restaurant to two of his employees, who ran it for six years. Earlier this year, slow business was leading them to close down, but Kuhhirte didn’t have the heart to see it disappear.

In March, he easily convinced his friend, Randy O’Quinn, to move from his home in Beaufort, South Carolina, to help run the shop.

O’Quinn has worked in computer repair, newspapers, truck driving and more over the years, but there was one thing he hoped to one day accomplish.

“I had always wanted to own my own sub shop,” he said.

They’ve made several changes since taking over the shop six months ago, from repainting the walls to purchasing all new equipment in the kitchen. They are even working to make some changes to the menu.

But it’s all the things that have stayed the same that make people come back for more said Kuhhirte.

“Everything has really fallen back into place,” Kuhhirte said. “It seems like it’s the same sandwich shop it was 20 years ago.”

Now that he’s back in the business, he constantly sees the same faces that ate at the sub shop years ago.

“A lot of people who used to come in here when they were 7 and 8 years old are coming back in here married with children,” he said.

And for those who have never been to Smoky Mountain Sub Shop before, expect to first tackle a menu of more than 50 subs, hot and cold. They also sell 99-cent hotdogs, salads, soup, quesadillas, cookies and brownies.

Patrons can also dine in a cozy atmosphere seconds away from all the downtown attractions. There’s also take-out for a quick lunch and they even deliver.

Kuhhirte and O’Quinn pride themselves in offering fresh ingredients, much of it local, and subs made to order just the way customers want it.

“We want you to know that whatever you want, you’ll get it when you come in here,” Kuhhirte said.

After taking the helm of his restaurant once again after 20 years of business, Kuhhirte wanted to find a way to give back.

During this month only, the pair is saying “thank you” the best way they know how — by offering subs and sandwiches at unbeatable prices. For the rest of September, they are selling select 12-inch subs and regular sandwiches at the same price they were back in 1993. That means foot-long subs like the American Cold Cut, veggie and egg salad, which are usually around $6, are only $1.69. Meatball and veggie burger subs are only $3.99.

And for those who prefer sandwich bread instead of subs, they are now serving fresh multi-grain, sourdough, rye and pretzel breads.

“The point is to say ‘Thank you’ for the past 20 years because this sub shop wouldn’t still be here if it wasn’t for the people of Haywood County,” he said.

Smoky Mountain Sub Shop is open from 10:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday and from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sundays. Free delivery is offered Monday through Friday until 3 p.m. Call 828-456-3400 for more information.