Eminent domain is theft, save New York Sub Hub and others

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In a study by Statistic Brain, Startup Business Failure Rate by Industry, the failure rate of all U.S. companies after five years was over 50 percent and over 70 percent after 10 years.

After 40 years we are still here, but the use of eminent domain by UNT is threatening that.

New York Sub Hub is in its fortieth year of business, but the building has been around a lot longer. This building has been on the Denton County tax roll since 1965, but one of our customers says he remembers visiting it in the mid-1950s when it was a house. Back then, the corner of Eagle and Avenue C was still a 12-acre pig farm. That’s nearly 70 years this dwelling has been a part of the Denton community. 

Since 1979, my family has put our hearts and souls into this business. My parents would bring my brother and me up to the store when we were younger, so we could hang out in the back office switching between the only two TV channels our antenna would allow. Even while we were young, we were cleaning tables, washing tomatoes, and picking up trash around the building. We even had birthday parties in the back parking lot. As we grew, so did our responsibilities. New York Sub Hub is the definition of a small family business. We are all in this together. I was entrusted with the reigns of NYSH in December 2012. I have worked tirelessly almost every day since then to help our business grow and thrive here in Denton.

Since 1979, New York Sub Hub has employed hundreds of UNT students and continues to today. Most of these employees do not have access to a car so they walk or bike to work. While they are just a body in a chair to the university, these students become our family. I even have employees that will be in my wedding come this winter. I have done everything in my power to prepare each employee that’s donned a navy blue shirt and an apron for life after school. UNT gives them the knowledge to succeed, New York Sub Hub gives them tangible tools to succeed. Teamwork, attention to detail, following instructions, being punctual, and the list goes on.  A combination of both UNT and NYSH will and has prepared these people to be successful in the real world and make us both proud.

We have served millions of sandwiches to UNT students, UNT employees, out of town visitors, and all the great people that live in Denton, Texas. Just recently, we’ve had numerous customers who haven’t been back to NYSH since the '70s and '80s and the first thing they say is “this place hasn’t changed a bit.” That’s how far our legacy stretches back. We are a time capsule of the good times former UNT students had during their college tenure. Our business is intertwined with both UNT and the city of Denton community. We have customers who come in every. single. day. It’s part of their daily routine. So much so that we have become good friends. We know their likes and dislikes, the troubles they are experiencing or where they’re going on vacation this year. One customer is 65 percent correct on his NFL game winner picks for the last two decades.  We have customers whom we haven’t seen in quite some time but we still remember their orders when they walk through these doors. A former UNT employee visited us 360 out of 365 days a year. When he wasn’t stopping by, he’d call to let us know he was okay. Others just needed to open up to us and let off some steam. Even the president of UNT himself enjoys our sandwiches — He orders the half seven with cherry peppers if you were wondering.

We have won “The Best of Denton“ for the past three years in a row and many other times throughout the years. The Denton Record-Chronicle had a poll up whether to expand UNT or to save the businesses. Overwhelmingly, 93 percent of voters favored saving the businesses located on our street. This begs the questions: Is UNT interested in the good of the public, or simply of their own interests? The public has spoken, clearly interested in keeping their favorite local businesses open.

We are not a college and we are not part of the government. New York Sub Hub fits into the mold that symbolizes the city of Denton. Support local and buy local. If we want to talk about public good, based on the above statements, I believe we make a strong case that New York Sub Hub is an intricate part of Denton as a whole. We have given back what we can to the community through donations and sponsorships to many people, organizations, and even UNT itself.

A lot of people have talked about relocation. I wish it were as easy as it sounds. There are many extra costs that are not reimbursed if eminent domain is used. Buying new land, constructing a building, finishing the inside, loss of jobs/employees, capital gains if not reinvested, lost wages during closure and most importantly, no guarantee that our business will thrive in a new location. We are being forced to sell against our will. My father had the foresight to buy our property in 1980 because of its future potential. To think that it can just be snatched from us with no consideration for our livelihood is inconceivable. You can’t put a number on the worth of the intangible factors that affect our business, and UNT’s offer, as well as being based on a two-year-old appraisal, is insulting. The foot traffic we currently have is irreplaceable. New York Sub Hub is a perfect combination of UNT customers and all the residents of Denton and beyond. 

There are, however, real questions to be asked here. If the land our store sits on is needed so badly, why hasn’t UNT purchased the plot of land to our east? It’s been sitting vacant for nearly a year. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that this letter was dropped off at the same time this entire area is being rezoned. What is their plan? It can’t be that urgent because according to the latest DRC article, UNT System officials are “in the process of hiring a master planner to figure out what could come next.” Will we end up as a parking lot like Rasoi? That doesn’t seem to qualify as “public good.” If the university has the unchecked power to uproot all of the lives of business owners on Avenue C, when will it stop? When will they finally be satisfied?

While this is our personal story, other businesses on Avenue C like Eagle Car Wash, Campus Book Store, Naranja Cafe, and Oriental Express are all on the chopping block. They have their own stories and personal history with their businesses that are equally as important to this community. The owners of Oriental Cafe immigrated to Texas in 1984 and scraped their savings together to buy their property. The couple who owns Eagle Car Wash has known my parents longer than I have. We all know UNT wants our properties, but it is not a necessity for this university to achieve a “Greenlight to Greatness” for the future. Our tiny slice of Denton will never impede the progress of The University of North Texas. However, their actions will negatively impact the lives of many generations of families that have dedicated their lives to the success of our businesses. There are countless other solutions that could be worked out but none have been discussed. The university can’t even bother to send us an offer letter with our proper business title.

We at New York Sub Hub can personally promise two things:

We will fight as hard as we can to save New York Sub Hub and our family business.
We will continue to show up to work each and every day to provide the best possible dining experience for you guys until we are physically or legally not able to.

We appreciate all the love and continued support during this difficult time!