HIDDEN GEMS, WYOMING’S BEST EATS: Sub Shop Serves up Smiles, Unforgettable Sandwiches in Downtown Jackson

Located in the heart of downtown Jackson, the New York City Sub Shop offers a welcoming, whimsical spot to dig into a variety of sandwiches. (Wyoming Truth photo by Melissa Thomasma)

By Melissa Thomasma

Special to the Wyoming Truth

JACKSON, Wyo.—You don’t even have to set foot in the door to begin experiencing the inviting energy that swirls around the New York City Sub Shop in Jackson. The vibrant decor and scent of freshly baked bread seeps through the building’s otherwise unassuming angles. Rest assured, though, it’s a miniscule taste of what lies within. 

The New York City Sub Shop has operated in Jackson since 1985 with its original menu, and it remains a beloved go-to for visitors and locals alike. When I stopped by on a recent Saturday,  I ordered up a Philly Cheesesteak sandwich (like all of the shop’s sandwiches, $11.85 for a half, $19.85 for a whole), and settled into a daffodil-yellow table with matching chairs. 

Bruce Tlougan, founder and owner of New York City Sub Shop, has been serving up unforgettable sandwiches on house-made bread since 1985. (Wyoming Truth photo by Melissa Thomasma)

As Bruce Tlougan, founder and owner of New York City Sub Shop joined me, I asked what other sandwiches are popular. With a wide smile under his iconic mustache, he leaned in: “It’s whatever people had the first time they came in,” he said.  While regulars are often up for trying something new, they almost always go back, loyal to their own personal favorite, Tlougan said.

The common element among the Sub Shop’s offerings? The bread. 

Tlougan takes immense pride in the freshly baked bread that has encased every sandwich since opening day. He ushered me into the back while I waited for my sandwich; pale loaves were still rising, waiting for the oven, and flawlessly golden ones were drawn out and brushed with olive oil. The process takes a solid two and a half hours, and involves three separate rises.

“There’s nothing like it in the country,” Tlougan explained. “You can’t hurry it, and you can’t cheat on it. Precision matters.”

The first bite of my Philly cheesesteak sub verified Tlougan’s claims. Offering just the right amount of chew, the warm bread was the star of the show and the ideal canvas for tender slices of top sirloin, melted provolone and the tang of banana peppers. Other tantalizing choices on the menu include the Staten Island (juicy meatballs, marinara and provolone), the Manhattan (stacked with Genoa salami, ham and cheese) and the Brooklyn (veggies and cheese for meat-free diners). Guests are invited to customize their creations with toppings, by adding lettuce, onions, tomatoes or the house-brined banana peppers.

Not sure what to pick? Don’t worry — there’s a spinner for that. Let fate decide what’s for lunch. It’s all in the name of playful and joyful dining at the New York City Sub Shop in Jackson. (Wyoming Truth photo by Melissa Thomasma)

A community spot

From the start, Tlougan has opened the doors seven days a week, all year long — except on Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day. He’s quick to point out that many days, the bread sells out before closing time at 4 p.m.

“Once the bread is gone, we’re done for the day,” he said.

The eatery’s original location, just a few blocks from its current locale, was 110-square-feet and offered no indoor seating — only grab-and-go sandwiches. “We served over a million sandwiches in the first 10 years,” Tlougan recalled. Between the first Jackson location and two subsequent outposts in Oregon, he said that his shops have served over 9 million sandwiches. 

His inspiration for a Big Apple-style shop in the heart of Wyoming? “New York City is the apex of everything great in America,” Tlougan said.

The decor weaves itself across every surface in the small indoor dining room. Jackson artist Greta Getzinger’s hand-painted murals seem to have a life of their own, twisting in playful and vibrant references to prominent community members, events, sports and locations. These images are more than fun, though.

Nearly every inch of the eatery’s interior is decorated with the work of local artist Great Getzinger–and not a single stroke is without meaning. (Wyoming Truth photo by Melissa Thomasma)

“These colors are engaging and calming for kids,” Tlougan said. “This isn’t a place where kids have to sit still and eat or they get in trouble. They’re encouraged to move around, look at the art, and then parents can enjoy their food, too.” 

It’s not just a theory, he added. Tlougan is proud that he’s now serving the fourth generation of locals at his New York City Sub Shop. “No matter how many times someone has been here, they look around at the artwork and inevitably find something new,” he said. “It’s really hard to be in a bad mood here.”

Tlougan would rather his sandwich shop remain a welcoming, reliably delicious local eatery than chase foodie awards or accolades. As he approaches his own retirement, Tlougan’s son Jay and stepson Colby are ready to captain the ship, ensuring that fifth and sixth generations can enjoy the lineup of superb sandwiches. 

“My purpose is to serve high-quality food and stay open longer,” he said. “So, if you’re hungry, stop on by and have something to eat. Judge for yourself.” 

Just be sure to get there early, because the bread will sell out.

New York City Sub Shop, 20 N. Jackson St., Jackson; 307-733-4414. Open daily, 11 a.m. – 4 p.m.

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