There’s a new sub shop on the avenue in Key Largo that’s bringing a bit of flavor from the city of Buffalo, with fresh cut and hot subs made for takeout and delivery.
Located at the former Domino’s Pizza, in the median at MM 98.9 next to Mr. C’s Gourmet Ice Cream, the Buffalo franchise, Avenue Subs, opened its doors just as the coronavirus pandemic closed the Keys to visitors in mid- to late March. Even with the shutdown, Nick Cortese’s business was still operating as orders from locals came in.
All in all, he said, business has gone quite well through it all, thanks to the local support.
“It’s been amazing,” he said. “The locals have really supported us during the whole time the Keys were closed. And now they opened the floodgates and it’s even a little more busy now. It’s still mostly locals who just come back as return customers.”
Originally from Buffalo, Cortese is no stranger to the Keys, having spent summers and weekends at a property his mother and father owned. In 1975, Cortese’s father retired and moved the family to Florida. Cortese was 6 years old at the time.
In 1984, Cortese decided to end his school career and open up his first pizzeria, known as Nick and Tony’s Avenue, in Fort Lauderdale on 19th Street.
In 1995, he moved back to Buffalo, where he ran his own Avenue Subs franchise for seven years. He then returned to the Keys, where he’s lived since 2002.
Avenue Subs mimics the pizza and sub shop that Cortese’s father opened in Buffalo back in the 1960s. As expected with a Buffalo sub shop, the rolls are oven-toasted, with cheese and toppings loaded onto the submarine. The meats are freshly-sliced once the order comes in, to give patrons a fresh sub Cortese wants them to enjoy.
The menu features a variety of favorites such as the roast beef sub, pizza sub and Italian combo, made with ham, capicola, salami and provolone. There’s no going wrong with any of the selections, including the pizza sub that’s loaded with sauce, mozzarella and pepperoni.
Other menu selections include salads like the antipasto that’s made with ham, turkey, salami, pepperoni, Swiss and provolone cheese and vegetables. Sides include garlic bread, soup and chips.
Cortese said the menu that patrons see today is only half of what the shop will be offering.
“We’re going to be adding the steak hoagies and cheeseburger subs once I get my grill and fryers,” he said. “We’re gonna have all the grilled stuff going.”
Cortese says he’ll also be offering a chicken finger sub. (All Buffalo natives, including myself, are ready!)
Avenue Subs is open Monday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. and on Sunday from noon to 8 p.m. Be sure to check out the daily specials. For more information, visit Avenue Subs’ Facebook page or call 305-741-7461.