Subway Remodel Caps 22-Year Journey For Owner

From part-time sandwich maker to owner of thriving franchise

Photo by Alexis Bechman. |

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From part-time sandwich maker to franchisee, Kathy James is Payson’s sandwich czar. Now in three weeks time, she’ll have a new store to rule.

Her Subway in the Bashas’ Shopping Center will close for remodel Tuesday, only to reopen in February bigger and brighter.

Sitting in nearly the same seat she occupied 22 years ago when the store first opened, James said Monday she is excited for the next phase.

The restaurant will expand into an adjoining suite once occupied by a health food store, which will increase the square footage by more than 75 percent. The space means room for public restrooms, more seating and all new tables and equipment.

James has dreamed of the expansion for years. Customers complain on a daily basis about the lack of facilities, something James said has been a nightmare for staff that has to turn customers away.

Once you lose a customer, it is difficult to get them back, she said.

James said she knew from the start she didn’t have enough space, but she didn’t have the resources to expand until now.

James started with Subway rather unexpectedly 22 years ago.

New to Payson, she noticed a restaurant was going into the shopping center. She called the number on the front door and talked to the owner.

While the owner said she didn’t need any more help, she agreed to take James on part time.

James started behind the line, making sandwiches.

Within a few years, the woman offered her the store, but James wasn’t ready.

A new owner came in and when he left in 1997, James became the new owner.

James said so many people think they can’t get anywhere with part-time work, but her story proves that wrong.

“I would sit in that chair and look out the window and wonder what I was doing,” she said. “But after only a few years, I was offered the store.”

James credits hard work and persistence for her success.

A new 1,600-square-foot store will be her crowning achievement.

Besides adding restrooms, the new space will have higher ceilings, all new tables and chairs, ovens, counters, soda machine, signage and a brighter color scheme.

Work starts Tuesday and should wrap up within three weeks.

During that time, all 11 employees are out of work. James said she told employees in June the remodel was coming so they would have had time to prepare. All are expected to return in February. James is also looking to hire more people.

“I am so thankful to my staff,” she said. “They are so devoted and I appreciate my manager and employees.”

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