Subway Coming to the Rez

January 2012, CUJ

Subway Logo

Northwest operation will be anchor tenant in new retail center. By the CUJ

MISSION – Subway is coming to the Umatilla Indian Reservation. The national franchise restaurant, famous for their foot long sub sandwiches, will be the anchor store in a 5,800 square foot retail center being built along the west side of Highway 331 in front of Cayuse Technologies in the Coyote Business Park.

Bob Cazier, vice president of Cazier Enterprises in Kennewick, Wash., said the store here will be the company’s 25th. Cazier Enterprises owns other Subways in Milton-Freewater and Umatilla, as well as the Wal-Mart Subway in Pendleton. (The company does not own the franchise for the Subway on Southgate in Pendleton.)

“Everybody loves Subway,” Cazier said. “Everybody needs to eat and it’s good healthy food. This looks like a good opportunity to bring that particular business model to the Reservation to serve the community and travelers to the (Arrowhead) Travel Plaza. It’s going to be a nice fit to a growing enterprise.”

Carrie Burns, spokesperson for Perennial Investments, LLC, said she was looking for a restaurant that offered a healthy alternative to other fast food restaurants.

“I’m thrilled that Subway will be our anchor store,” Burns said. “They are a long term operator already in business and bring a well-known name.”

Construction on the three-shop retail center is expected to begin in mid-January with completion in May.

“By Jan. 15 you should start to see ground being moved,” Burns said. “The building permits have been issued and we’re ready to get started. If I’m optimistic, I’d say we’ll be up and running by May.”

Cazier said Subway fits into the fast-food category but offers a different menu that features fresh vegetables and bread made in the store.

“Customers know exactly what goes on there. The sandwich is built in front of them and they can select from bread to toppings to salt, or not,” Cazier said. “People like the freshness, the healthy image. Subway has shown a steady growth, even in this blighted economy. We’ve established stores as a value and healthy alternative to burgers.”

Cazier and his brother, Russ, run the 21-year-old company with family members on staff. They come from a farming background.

“We came out of the Ag industry and we’ve gone from production to distribution, if you will. It’s been an interesting jump, but we understand how to consume food. It’s natural to us,” he said.

Burns said Cazier Enterprises exemplifies the American dream.

“From the ag industry to owning several Subways, it’s a wonderful story of what living here is all about,” Burns said. “They run a fantastic business so we all should be really excited about bringing good operators to the area.”

Cazier Enterprises, the spokesperson said, is “excited” about hiring tribal members and is working with TERO to provide a work supply to be trained for jobs in the store.

“It’s a win-win with jobs for the Tribes and growth for Cazier Enterprises.”

Burns said Cazier Enterprises was chosen following research on potential restaurants.

“I found them and then worked with them to look at the area. We brought them to the area and met with Stephanie (Seamans) and Bill (Tovey) and made a presentation on why the area would be a great place to invest, and we won them over. We talked about growth, opportunities, customer base and positive help from TERO. We spent time selling them on why it is important to be here. They’ve been great to work with from the start and I think we’ll see Subway will be a real positive addition to the area.”

Burns said the retail center will house three stores rather than the four initially announced. The spokesperson said negotiations are underway with another drive-through business on the opposite end from Subway, but it is too early to release the name of that business. That will leave about 1,140 square feet for the third lease.

“Our focus is on finding something that brings added services to the area,” she said. Potential businesses could be a hair salon or a Laundromat.

“We want to bring something different than another food service to the community.”

Meanwhile, a 440-foot north-to-south service road is being constructed. It will allow better access to the area, especially for cars using the drive-throughs.

Terry Warhol, CTUIR Public Works Director, said Tribal crews are working on the road, which will connect Kusi Road on the north to Spilya Road on the south.

“It’s going to be busy,” the Perennial Investment spokesperson said. “This will allow freer access for everyone, especially with the two drive-throughs. There will be a lot of cars potentially going through that space and we want to make it easier on everyone.”

In addition to travelers coming off the freeway and Highway 331, it is expected that workers from adjacent Cayuse Technologies and the U.S. Forest Service, as well as the CTUIR government offices down the hill, will take advantage of the nearby restaurant. Truckers, too, may opt for Subway sandwiches when they stop over at Arrowhead.

Perennial Investment, LLC, leases Tribally owned land in Coyote Business Park. The corporation is working with the CTUIR to construct the building and then sub-leasing to tenants.

This story originally appeared in the CUJ. The Confederated Umatilla Journal is the monthly newspaper of the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation in Pendleton, Oregon.