Sacramento is about to lose a dining institution. On Oct. 14, Tony Recchia will make his last sandwich at the last branch of his Tony Baloney group of sub shops. And the last sandwich no doubt will be his pepper steak sub with pan-fried onions and green peppers, the sandwich that he figures accounts for between 50 percent and 60 percent of his sales.
"We're just starting our 44th year. I bet we've sold three million sandwiches," says Recchia, who opened his first Tony Baloney along Del Paso Boulevard in 1963.
He says several factors contributed to his decision to close the last and most profitable of his string of sub shops, at 5059 College Oak Drive. They include the difficulty of finding employees to help run the place; the desire to devote more time to his line of bottled salad dressings; and an online horse-racing wager that won him $170,000 last month.
"I've been trying to close for a year, and then I got lucky," says Recchia, a Massachusetts native who began to make sandwiches for colleagues at Aerojet when he couldn't find any East Coast-style submarines to his liking here. Pending layoffs at Aerojet then prompted Recchia, an engineer, to go into the restaurant business so he could share his sandwich-building talents with a wider audience.
"It's time for me and Dorothy to close up," says Recchia, referring to his wife. They also have two daughters involved in the business. "I've been wanting to push the dressings more, but I haven't been able to get away from the restaurant," says Recchia of a line of salad dressings he began to bottle commercially in the 1990s. "Now I hope to expand that."
Before he gets involved in that I hope he remembers to send me the recipe for his pepper steak sub.