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New eatery battles hunger with fresh options

Northern owners bring new sub shop, pizza and more to Downtown Timmins

A new Timmins eatery has the artillery needed to slay even the most monstrous appetite.

Gilles and Cindy Larochelle are the owners of Subzilla on Third Avenue, near the southeast corner of Cedar Street South.

The couple created a take-out joint that caters to Northern tastes.

“I’m originally from Cochrane and I’ve been in Timmins for 20 years,” he said. “I live in the south end. My wife and I met here in Timmins. She’s from Iroquois Falls, so we’re both Northerners at heart.

“My wife works at the government of Canada building next door and I’ve been in sales my whole life. I’ve always wanted a pizzeria. When I found this location here, that’s when the idea of Subzilla came. She wanted a sub place, I wanted a pizzeria, so we merged both together. That’s how this came about.”

The premise is to provide a fresher, healthier — and yet tastier — version of traditional favourites, while providing quick and easy takeout.

“We were just talking names, back and forth,” Larochelle said. “We went over our vision, and we wanted to make healthier, bigger subs. That’s where Subzilla came from, zilla meaning big.

“Because we have a ghost kitchen inside here, it’s called Fresh Slice Pizza, we have all these ingredients that you can have, and some are not typical on subs.”

Subzilla’s menu is unique. It features a variety of designer sub sandwiches, which can be customized with a huge number of add-ons, plus a design-your-own option.

“I’ve been in sales 20 years and travelled the whole country,” he said. “I’ve got a lot of favourites on here. My wife and I, we kind of merged our pallets together.

“We have our sub menu. The whole idea was to be able to get something different. We have a create it, name it and we’ll save it. We’ve got software so our till and our online presence will have customer favourites.

“Let’s say you were to come in and always want a ham and cheese with pineapple on it, well then that would be yours. If you come up with a nifty name that’s pretty G-rated, we’ll add it on there and on our media. The top sellers, we’ll also put it on our menu as customer favourites. We’ve had two so far, without even pushing that part of it.”

Subzilla’s designed subs include an assorted (salami, ham, bologna, classic sub cheese and sub sauce), the Behemoth (double the assorted, topped your way), BBQ Chicken (grilled chicken, bacon, cheddar cheese, barbecue sauce and chipotle), Chicken Carbonara (grilled chicken, bacon, mozzarella, cheese, mushrooms, white alfredo sauce and toasted), the club (turkey, ham, bacon, Monterey Jack, cheddar and ranch), Italian (salami, pepperoni, ham, provolone and house sub sauce), veggie (your pick of fresh vegetables with provolone or Monterey Jack), steak and cheese (shaved steak, melted cheese and provolone, onions and peppers), Atomic Heat Beam (capicola, salami, provolone, shredded cheese, mayo, sriracha, hot peppers and toasted), meatball (meatballs, shredded cheddar and mozzarella, with marinara sauce) and the pizza sub (salami, pepperoni, bacon, shredded mozzarella and tangy marinara sauce. Then feel free to pile on the extras.

All sandwiches have an unlimited choice of veggies, sauces and seasonings, served on white, whole wheat or cheese bread.

“We try to buy local as much as we can,” Larochelle said. “Our buns are made at Golden Crust Bakery. We try to get them every day. Our vegetables, we’ll go to Pick of the Crop or here or there at the markets.

“We try to keep prices reasonable as well. But the fresher, the better. If not (local), it’s all Ontario Grade No. 1. We cut it every day.”

There are combos as well, including coleslaw or chips and a drink, or soup and a drink, both with another unique offering.

“There’s an atomic pickle skewer — she likes the sour, spicy stuff and I don’t,” he explained. “We found these skewers, they have a pickle, olive, jalapeno and onion on it. It just gives a little variety, instead of just the traditional potato chips with the sub.

“We try to limit my deserts. Found this cake that’s made locally with bananas and butterscotch, and that’s our favourite. And having bananas in it, it perfectly fit our theme (Kong banana butterscotch cake).”

Just this week, the shop offered its pizza slices for the first time.

“Pizza by the slice, that’s the next phase,” he said. “We will have pizza by the slice ready to go if you want to have a quick, fast lunch.

“Right now, we’re doing all custom work. People love the fact they can customize our full menu. There are some people who want something they know is good, fresh and made that day. So, we’ll have the slices and a couple of pre-made subs ready to go for them to be more convenient.

“Some people only have 30 minutes for lunch. That’s why we carry soup and all the sides.”

Prior to its recent official opening, Subzilla tested its offerings on Facebook followers.

“We did test out our menu pre-opening,” Larochelle said. “We surveyed, local people came in and told us what they like and their votes were pretty much in sales. So, I don’t have one item that doesn’t sell at a decent volume. I’m very happy with our menu.

“Our Facebook has been amazing. We have not advertised anything at all and we literally had people waiting at our doors and us saying we’re closed with people coming in. We were testing our menu on people coming in. So far, the Facebook, and reviews, have all been positive.

“My wife runs the Facebook part. I don’t have even two minutes to look at it. She just sends me the highlights — the good and the bad. We care more about making the customer happy than making money.”

Subzilla wants to be more than a lunch and dinner hot spot, also an answer to those late-night cravings.

“We open 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily, on weekends try to stay open past 12 … try to keep later hours,” he said. “We are trying to get our own delivery service. That’s the key to be able to keep it open later. Especially with the pizzas and the subs, we find there’s a good market.

“A lot of miners, they want to get their subs for (the) next day. And the pizza is a typical late-night snack.”

When the website is finished, it will be integrated with Subzilla’s point-of-service in the shop, providing orders for the kitchen and delivery.

While the creation of Subzilla and Fresh Slice Pizza is exciting, it calls for long hours.

“It's a family affair,” Larochelle said. “We have three kids. My daughter helps me during the day. My two other teenagers are 16, I rotate them through. My wife, she’ll come for a couple hours during rush hours.

“We’re all involved. We all have our roles. We still developing our roles because it’s new and it’s going pretty quick. I’m here from opening to close until we get all our systems down pat.”

He said all the planning, the brainstorming, and the long hours is worthwhile.

“I started this with my passion for a pizzeria, Fresh Slice Pizza, which is a ghost kitchen and I want to grow that business,” he said. “But we’ve been focusing so much on Subzilla, which is great. I thought I would be focusing more on the pizzeria, but Subzilla is really taking off.

“It’s really something special. Normally, you get phone calls from customers saying you’re missing this, you’re missing that. I got a call two nights ago, he said ‘Oh my God,’ and he sounded so rough. Then he finished up saying ‘That was the best pizza I ever had in my life. Whatever you’re doing, keep on doing it.’ And that was the first pesto pizza I had ever done.

“I worked in a pizzeria for five years. But there are a few items on there that are newer to me because it’s a franchise from the West Coast. I’ve been doing online training for that segment. It’s on the back burner until we get it perfect. Then we’re going to launch it as strong as Subzilla.”

Subzilla is located at 205B Third Avenue in Timmins. Reach them by phone at 705-465-6266 or find them on Facebook .