Miami Grill: Miami Subs Gets Pitbull-Approved Rebranding
In the '90s, no sight was more welcome among angst-ridden suburban teens than the Greek diner disguised in neon and palm fronds known as Miami Subs. For decades, the Magic City has been a Petri dish for successful fast-food franchises to experiment with off-beat concepts to take to mass market. From Burger King to Pollo Tropical, several iconic eateries had their start as local chains. However, Miami Subs' time in the cultural consciousness was cut short long before it hit its prime.
Courtesy of Miami Subs
For awhile, like the Metromover and the Seaquarium, Miami Subs seemed to be going the way of other bloated remnants of the town's Reaganite boom years. But ardent fans of all things tzatziki are rejoicing now that the Miami chain is under new management, which plans to inject some life into a franchise chain that used to supply Madonna and friends with wings and Dom Perignon through a drive-thru window conveniently open at 3 a.m.
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Miami Subs got its start as a local upscale sandwich shop called Mr. Submarine in Key West. After its initial owners sold and franchised their business, the company experienced a boom in the '90s. By that time, they had expanded their menu to include grilled items like wings, burgers, and their now-famous Philly cheesesteaks. Eventually the boom turned to bust as times changed and customers began leaving the brand. In the early 2000s, Miami Subs had overgrown its market and was acquired by the national hot-dog franchise Nathan's Famous.
Enter Richard Chwatt, an investment banker from New York who specializes in revitalizing once-iconic brands. "I was attracted to certain high-profile companies that had some past glamor and sex appeal I was looking to re-create," Chwatt tells Short Order. "In the '80s I got involved with Grossinger's Hotel in the Catskill Mountains, mostly just so my mother could say her son owned Grossinger's, but we brought some much-needed life back to their operation."