Blowing Rock Subway set to close
With the North Carolina Department of Transportation putting the finishing touches on the new U.S. 321 between Blackberry Road and Lenoir this spring, it is now beginning to accept bids from contractors for the four-lane project that will widen 321 through Blowing Rock.
The first stage of that process is the purchasing of property, most of which sits on the southeast side of Valley Boulevard.
Businesses sitting directly on the southeast side of Valley Blvd. have begun to shut their doors.
Some, like the Chestnut Veterinary Clinic, are closing for good. Others, such as the Subway sandwich shop, are looking for new places.
"We"ve been looking for a new place for about a year," said Rick Sokolnicki, owner of the Blowing Rock Subway franchise.
Sokolnicki and his wife, Kristen, purchased the franchise from Kristen"s father in 2008.
"The NCDOT has given us until the end of February until we have to close," Sokolnicki said. "Right now, we have a tentative closing date of Feb. 21."
Sokolonicki stated that he would like to find a new place on or near 321, but it has been a struggle finding a spot that would accommodate enough parking. He also stated that if it is possible, he would like to have two Subways in Blowing Rock: A bigger one that would be used for baking and storage, and a smaller one, possibly in downtown Blowing Rock.
Because Sokolnicki rents the current Subway space from the building"s owner, he received a much smaller compensation package from the NCDOT than he would have if he had owned the building himself.
"We received money for moving the business and reestablishing it in a new location," Sokolnicki said.
Over the past few months, his staff of employees has dwindled to a crew of six. Sokolnicki said that if he could find a new home for Subway immediately, he would probably be able to hang onto his staff until the new site opened in approximately three months.
"It"s hard because they don"t know how long we will be down," he said. "And we"ve got one employee who has been here for five or six years."
Sokolnicki also wants to reopen as soon as possible for his regular customers, including many of the people who work at Blowing Rock Fire and Rescue and Blowing Rock Hospital.
"There are some people I see in here nearly every day," Sokolnicki said. "Subway has been here for 15 years, and I really appreciate my employees and customers. I"m going to do whatever it takes to reopen as soon as possible."
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