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Yellow Submarine dives into the depths of sandwich individuality
by Jessica Mosebach
Mar 13, 2008 | 1669 views | 0 0 comments | 25 25 recommendations | email to a friend | print
<a href=>Tribune/Tony Contini</a> Michael MacQuiddy prepares a sandwich for a customer at Yellow Submarine in Sparks.
Tribune/Tony Contini Michael MacQuiddy prepares a sandwich for a customer at Yellow Submarine in Sparks.
<a href=>Tribune/Tony Contini</a> Michelle Howe-Stark stands in front of a highly decorated wall at Yellow Sub in Sparks where she is the owner.
Tribune/Tony Contini Michelle Howe-Stark stands in front of a highly decorated wall at Yellow Sub in Sparks where she is the owner.
The Yellow Submarine is hardly noticeable from Pyramid Highway, almost as if submerged from the high volume of traffic that the road carries every day. But in a secret cranny next door to the Scolari’s Food and Drug Co., Michelle Howe-Stark and her employees carry on the tradition of 33-year-old sandwich shop that prides itself on its personality.

Howe-Stark had plenty of career opportunities ahead of her when she was younger, but found that the food industry was the place for her. Howe-Stark purchased the business on Jan. 1, 2007, but has a 20-year history with the shop.

Steve Lannen, the original owner, opened for business in 1975 on Tahoe’s south shore in a small strip mall. Eventually, they moved to Sparks, where Howe-Stark was looking for a part-time job.

“I saw the ‘help wanted’ sign and (eventually) ended up being the manager,” Howe-Stark said.

She said this Yellow Submarine location is not part of the national chain, but she likes it that way. Everyone who works there turns out to be good friends with each other and Howe-Stark makes sure she doesn’t run her store the “conventional” way. She said that she doesn’t strictly conform to a set menu.

“We don’t go by the rules,” Howe-Stark said. “You have to let people have free reign. If you can’t trust people, you’re lost.”

Her employees have the freedom to create their own sandwiches, which she’ll use as a special of the month.

It’s that creativity that brings people back, she said, and it keeps people wanting more, especially when one of her employees creates something new and tasty.

“Nobody will be skinny!” she said.

Each employee has their own area of expertise, such as the young man working in the store known as “the wrap king.” Yellow Submarine offers 6- and 12-inch subs with a variety of meats and cheeses. Ham, roast beef, pastrami and turkey are paired up with swiss, provolone and cheddar. On the wrap menu are white bean, caesar garden and the latter is made with rice in barbecue sauce, turkey breast, pineapple, onions and tomatoes. The teriyaki BAT, with bacon, avocado and tomatoes, is prepared with rice and teriyaki sauce. Subs cost anywhere from $4.05 for a 6-inch to $8.40 for a 12-inch. Salads, beers of the month and party platters that serve from 10 to 25 people complete the menu.

Howe-Stark said she considers herself fortunate to have workers who genuinely enjoy cooking rather than seeing their positions as just a job.

And owning her own business has suited her social personality well.

“I love doing it,” Howe-Stark said of working in the food business. “I’m not sitting behind a desk and being quiet.”

Howe-Stark said the name “Yellow Submarine” was the result of a conversation between “two hippie guys” who got it from the Beatles’ 1966 hit and it became a mom-and-pop business. Its play on the word “sub,” motif of photos of random guests and classic arcade games, including Ms. Pac-Man, maintain the store’s friendly atmosphere.

MaryLou McDonagh visited the restaurant for the first time recently and said she would definitely return.

“They did it in a wrap,” she said of her item of choice, basking in the late afternoon sun at a table outside the store. “I was tired of Subway; I wanted meat in my sandwich.”

McDonagh, who works at Reno Business Brokers, said she liked that it was in “a little nook” off Pyramid, even though it’s hidden from plain sight. She said the food was “scrumptious” and the shop was clean.

“People have been very supportive,” Howe-Stark said. “People have said that it’s just like they remember it, only with more stuff on the walls.”

Yellow Submarine is located at 920 Holman Way and is open seven days a week.
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