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Turtle's Subs to move just across town in February

January 27, 2013|By DAVE McMILLION | davem@herald-mail.com
  • Turtle's Subs on Burhans Boulevard is moving to South Pointe Shopping Center on Oak Ridge Drive in Hagerstown.
By Ric Dugan/Staff Photographer

It’s time for that cheesesteak sub with the sliced ribeye steak to move on.

Load up all the supplies for the Italian sub — including those sweet peppers that Leroy Peck pickles himself — because a new home awaits Turtle’s Subs.

But before you panic and think you need to order one more helping of buffalo wings with Peck’s homemade blue cheese, Turtle’s Subs is not leaving the area. The eatery is moving across town to the South Pointe Shopping Center on Oak Ridge Drive.

After 25 years at 164 N. Burhans Blvd., Peck said it was time for a move.

A native of Cumberland, Md., Peck worked for Kelly Springfield Tire Co. in Cumberland for a little more than 23 years, when the business closed.

At that point, Peck decided he was no longer going to work for someone else.

He bought the second franchise for D’Atri restaurant, a well-known Cumberland eatery, and moved to Hagerstown in 1987.

After Peck bought the D’Atri franchise, he felt he needed to leave the Cumberland area to be successful. Peck didn’t know much about Hagerstown in 1987, but he knew it was a “progressive” city and he decided to move here.

When Peck started his business, he knew he had to change the name. Peck said submarine sandwiches got their name from dock workers in Philadelphia who used to build submarines. When he was looking for a name, he looked up submarine in an encyclopedia and read about an early wooden sub that was known as a “turtle.”

“The only people that come in here that know the answer to that are people that’s been in the Navy,” Peck said of his shop name.

Peck, 67, sets high goals for himself, like his plans to eventually have 10 stores. He believes some people falter in their lives because they set goals too low.

“It’s been a rough ride, but it’s been successful,” Peck said.

In the first week of February, Peck will move Turtle’s to its new home in Suite 300 at the South Pointe Shopping Center on Oak Ridge Drive.

“It’s going to be a great location. Not better, a great location,” said Peck, adding that the new shop used to be a restaurant.

It still has an exhaust hood, which is an expensive component of a restaurant, Peck said.

When Peck purchased his D’Atri franchise, people at D’Atri taught him how to make subs and sandwiches.

“Never worked for a restaurant before in my life,” Peck said.

The seasoned lettuce Peck uses is a D’Atri recipe, but he has tweaked other recipes.

The sweet peppers Peck uses are a Turtle’s Subs favorite. He said his customers rave about them and talk about how they can’t find similar ones anywhere else. Peck said that’s because he pickles his own sweet peppers.

“Those trade secrets are locked up forever,” Peck said.

Peck said Turtle’s best-selling hot sub is the cheesesteak, which uses thinly sliced ribeye steak. The shop’s top-selling cold sub is the Italian hoagie, which includes provolone cheese, salami, ham, seasoned lettuce, sweet peppers, pickles and tomatoes.

For his bread, he uses rolls from a D’Atri bakery in Cumberland. Peck, who lives in Cumberland, brings with him a fresh load of rolls every morning when he drives to work in his Honda Accord, which has 385,000 miles on its odometer.

During a recent interview, Peck talked about other aspects of his business and his takes on life.

• On retirement: He’s not interested. “What’s retirement? That means the end.” Peck said he recently had to stay home on a snowy day. “I was climbing the walls. There is no way I could do it.”

• On his three employees, one of whom is his son, Christian: “We have a squabble now and then, but Dad always wins. That’s the way it’s supposed to be.”

• On his decision to leave Burhans Boulevard: “Three words, three words. The reason I’m moving is location, location, location, period. Fill in the blanks,” Peck said.

• On being a black business man: “It’s got some challenges. You just have to man up to them.”

• On success in business: “If you treat people right, give them good service, good quality food, which we have, they’ll come back.”

• On his move: Peck said some customers have taken it hard. He said he stresses he’s only moving across town. “They act like I’m moving to Alaska somewhere.”

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