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New York Sub Hub owner aims to protect family business

New York Sub Hub owner aims to protect family business

New York Sub Hub owner aims to protect family business
February 26
15:05 2019

Hunter Christiansen, the owner of New York Sub Hub on Avenue C, grew up in the restaurant that his dad started in 1979. Christiansen has worked at the family-owned sandwich shop since he was 10 years old, or as he puts it, since he could hold a rag.

As he enters his seventh year of ownership, the legacy of the shop his father opened, along with several other businesses along Avenue C, could be interrupted due to UNT’s Board of Regents’ vote to exercise eminent domain on the businesses. UNT has not disclosed a specific plan for the proposed acquisitions.

New York Sub Hub owner Hunter Christiansen works behind the counter at his Avenue C restaurant on Feb. 7, 2019. Image by: Meredith Holser.

“We’re just taking it day by day until they contact us, send a letter or something, just to see what [the university’s] plan is,” Christiansen said. “We have contacted some lawyers and figured out the next steps once [the school starts] pressuring us. We’ve gone as far as thinking of just picking this building up and moving it somewhere.” 

Christiansen said he found out about the eminent domain vote through a story in the Denton Record-Chronicle. He said it is unfortunate that the university has not taken New York Sub Hub’s 40 years in business into consideration and reached out to him, but he does think that establishing communication between the business and the school would make the situation better.  

“We can figure out a solution for both parties, whether it is implementing us somewhere on campus or something like that,” Christiansen said. “We don’t want to move, we don’t want to sell but we also haven’t heard anything so we don’t know what is going on over there.”

Although the Board of Regents has not been in contact with the restaurant yet, Christiansen said he has a deep connection to the students and culture of UNT. Students employed by New York Sub Hub over the years have become friends and Christiansen has even gone to some of their weddings.

“We have employed hundreds of UNT students, most of them without cars,” Christiansen said. “[Sub Hub] is more than just a business. We know people that come in here five days a week, every single week, and if they don’t come in [we] get a little worried.”

Psychology senior Baylee Davis, an intern and band member at the Denton Wesley Foundation, has eaten at New York Sub Hub with the rest of the band, after their worship session every Tuesday, for the past four years. Davis also helped the “Sub Hub Challenge,” which rewards anyone who eats all 33 available sandwiches within a month. If someone complete the challenge, their name is added to a plaque in the restaurant.

Video by Jessika Hardy

“We have a Sub Hub license plate hanging by our student office desk,” Davis said. “We love Sub Hub and it has united us as a band and as friends.”

The employees at New York Sub Hub have the band members’ orders memorized and have gotten to know each of them.

“If one of us misses a week, they always ask where we were when we come back the next [Tuesday],” Davis said. “We are so sad and angry about the possibility of not being able to eat the best sandwiches in Denton anymore together.”

New York Subhub sits near the intersection of Avenue C and Eagle Drive. New York Subhub has operated at its current location since 1979. Image by: Will Baldwin.

Music sophomore Michael Rogers, a member of the Green Brigade, is a regular customer of New York Sub Hub, which is a “wonderful place,” he said. He enjoys the sandwiches so much that he recently completed the “Sub Hub” challenge created by Davis and her friends.

“The fact that UNT wants to take [Sub Hub] is completely shameful, considering the campus we already have needs more work than ever,” Rogers said. “The only thing worth adding is parking because it is terrible, and you know that is not what they would even do.”

The amount of support the restaurant has received has been overwhelming for Christiansen, who said he cannot understand why the university would want the spot that New York Sub Hub is in.

“If it was something for a parking lot, it is a little insulting,” Christiansen said. “I don’t know what they would put in this area right here. Also, they spoke about partnership and development, so are they going to take us and then partner with another private company? [It] doesn’t seem right to me. Why not partner with us? The whole eminent domain thing is just unfair, especially for a successful business.”

In response to the Board of Regents vote, there have been mentions on Twitter of staging a protest in support of the restaurant, as well as other tweets expressing how much people enjoy Sub Hub. Christiansen has noticed the positivity online and thinks the university should take note of the number of people supporting him and the rest of the staff.

“If UNT is doing this for the public good, the public has spoken,” Christiansen said. “They want us here.”

For Christiansen, UNT exercising eminent domain on New York Sub Hub would be interfering with a family legacy and part of the Denton community.

“[Closing the shop] would hurt me for sure,” Christiansen said. “[For] my parents, I feel it would hurt even more. They have been doing this four times longer than I have. I grew up in here. It’s an extension of myself, I feel like. It is one of those small businesses that Denton thrives on. To leave because we are unsuccessful is one thing, but to leave because we are forced out is another.”

Featured Image: New York Sub Hub owner Hunter Christiansen slices meat for a sandwich at his business on Feb. 7, 2019. Christiansen grew up in the restaurant, started by his father in 1979. Image by: Meredith Holser.

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Nikki Johnson-Bolden

Nikki Johnson-Bolden

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