BLIMPIE, Downtown Brooklyn

by Kevin Walsh

THERE was a time when Blimpie ruled the roost as far as fast food submarine sandwiches (known by a variety of names elsewhere in the country) in the New York City market. Today, Subway is the dominant franchise (a much inferior product as far as I’m concerned) and outfits like Jersey Mike’s (which strives to duplicate the Blimpie formula) are coming up fast. One of the last standalone Blimpies left in NYC is shown here at Willoughby and Pearl Streets in the shadow of Brooklyn Borough Hall.

I have a lengthy history with Blimpie. For years in the Easy Eighties when I worked the overnight shift at Photo Lettering, there was an all night Blimpie at 2nd Avenue and East 45th where I would be found, almost inevitably, at 2 AM each Thursday night/Friday morning. My sandwich of choice at that time was pepperoni and cheese.

Forward about 30 years to my stint at Pearson Publishing in Hoboken in 2016. That was the home of the flagship Blimpie on Washington Street, and befitting Hoboken’s status as the place where Blimpie was founded, the sandwiches at the flagship were too large for me to handle in one sitting. By then, my choice had evolved to sliced turkey. I take it with provo or American, lettuce, tomato, sweet peppers, oil and vinegar, nothing else. The Hoboken branch is now closed (a nationwide trend) and a promised replacement never opened.

Blimpie now has about 750 units nationwide and nearly no presence anymore in NYC, except here and a few outliers including a woebegotten branch in Bay Ridge, of all places (that branch has now closed too). This may be for the better, as I have been on a carb-cutting kick since May in which I have dropped 30 lbs. (that was taxed during the recent holiday season).

As always, “comment…as you see fit.” I earn a small payment when you click on any ad on the site.



Joe Fliel January 11, 2023 - 12:38 am

The Bay Ridge location, at 8623 5th Ave. is closed. It’s no longer listed on their website. When I attended summer school classes at Adelphi Academy in 1976, I always stopped there to grab a large roast beef after classes. It’s a shame that the chain slid into oblivion. As you said, it’s far better than Subway by a longshot. My son and I still go to the one in Downtown Brooklyn.

Kevin Walsh January 11, 2023 - 11:01 am

The Bay Ridge location was woebegone and I avoided it after two trips; I would go in after a dentist appointment, if I hadn’t been drilled.

Joe Fliel January 11, 2023 - 7:45 pm

It was a pretty decent looking place, and the sandwiches were as good as could be gotten in many Manhattan locations, when I used to go there.

lorenzo saraceno January 13, 2023 - 7:36 am


Dave Davidson January 13, 2023 - 8:35 pm


Sunnysider January 11, 2023 - 12:58 am

Blimpie needs to make a comeback. Maybe Lizzo can be their new spokesperson. The commercials would be a hoot.

John T January 11, 2023 - 8:53 pm

The one at Nassau Street & Maiden Lane continues to hang on in Lower Manhattan. I think it’s been there for decades.
Welcome back, Haven seen your posts on FB for a while

Art Kurtz January 11, 2023 - 2:04 am

Blimpie has been a favorite of mine since I was like 6! My favorite is their Tuna. Unlike their competitor, Blimpie uses high quality albacore (white meat) tuna while their
competitor uses yellowfin. I always stop at that hidden Willowby Street Blimpie when I’m in the area. I also like their turkey. I wish there were more Blimpies. Whenever I see one, I stop in.

Joe Fliel January 11, 2023 - 11:01 pm

In plain English, Subway sucks. In the one on Jay between Fulton & Willoughby, the meat they use has the distinct musty aroma of stale cold cuts. I took a whiff of my sandwich and asked to see the manager. I handed the sandwich to him and told him to smell it. Wiseguy winced after smelling it and tried to play it off saying there was nothing was wrong with it. I insisted that he take a bite. He refused; so, I told him I wanted a refund, which I got. Most of the customers waiting on line saw what transpired and left the joint.

Alvy January 11, 2023 - 7:52 am

I think there are maybe 3 left on Long Island – I used to go the one in Lawrence in The Five Towns when I worked at Blockbuster Video around 1988. It was far better than Subway and on top of that, the company didn’t have a scandalous pitchman.

Jonathan Lessuck January 13, 2023 - 12:10 pm

My go to was the Blimpie’s Best, at the shop on Broadway and 109th (?).

John Broda January 11, 2023 - 8:55 am

Is the gynecologist upstairs also “all-night”? 😉

Mike of Bensonhurst January 11, 2023 - 9:18 am

This brings back memories for me. During my college years, I worked overnights delivering the bread to all of the Blimpie’s in Brooklyn and Manhattan. The bread came from a Bakery in Bensonhurst that’s still there. This was around the time of the area starting to gentrify, so at night there wasn’t much going on expect for the White Castle on Fulton Street. My overnight eating spot on the route was the Blimpie on 45th & 2nd, same as Kevin. But my sandwich was the Tuna Melt with Cheese.

sarita king January 11, 2023 - 9:44 am

I worked at one – out in Long Island while at college. Eddie Murphy used to roll in after his gigs – before SNL etc. I can still smell the smell. Good thing two of my three housemates worked there too. We all stunk!

Peter January 11, 2023 - 11:36 am

Subway’s franchising agreements are among the worst in the industry.

redstaterefugee January 11, 2023 - 12:00 pm

I don’t understand the affection for Blimpie (even the name doesn’t resonate). Where I live (San Tan Valley, AZ) sandwich wars have broken out along Hunt Highway. It’s Subway (the first of the sandwich chains to set up shop here), followed by Jimmy John’s, Fire House Subs, & coming very soon in the mall across the street from Subway, Jersey Mike’s. For a short while we had a Quizno’s but it didn’t survive very long (damn it!) No wonder lunch boxes have practically disappeared. However, Boar’s Head still rules the deli counter at the local supermarket so homemade sandwiches survive (including in my home).

Kurt Jones January 13, 2023 - 2:22 pm

There used to be a Blimpies at W. 55 St. & 8 Ave. in Manhattan, one of the first ones if I remember correctly. Always good to get a Blimpie Best. Definitely miss the convenience.

Anonymous January 11, 2023 - 12:53 pm

Blimpie hasn’t bee the same since they did away with the #1 (Spiced ham, cooked salami ans cheese). Last time I had one of those was in 2013 at the 4th Ave/E 13th street location. The Blimpie Best is a good stand in.

Eric Costello January 11, 2023 - 1:05 pm

I used to own stock in the company. They had serious management issues — I recall the CEO once starred in advertisements while dancing with a foot-long — and they essentially got their lunch eaten by Subway, appropriately enough. I used to eat a lot at a branch they had on the Upper East Side, and yes, I think their sandwiches were better than Subway’s.

Tim January 11, 2023 - 2:00 pm

The Bay Ridge location was forgettable.
Best one I ever went to was Bergen Ave in Journal Square,Jersey City. Near the PATH.
It was turkey and maybe the best sandwich I ever had.

Lavoy January 12, 2023 - 3:18 pm

I miss Blimpies. Something about the vinegar on the sandwich I always liked. I had one growing up in St. George Staten Island on Stuyvesant Pl near SI Ferry. I either had ham & cheese or bologna but with extra lettuce, tomatoes, onions, s&p, esp that oil & vinegar. My friends & I would go after school….those were the days when kids could go places by themselves.

therealguyfaux January 11, 2023 - 2:59 pm

There was a History Channel “The Food That Built America” episode about the rivalry between Subway and Blimpie, in which it was said, if I recall correctly, that it was a fundamental difference in philosophy which accounts for why you see Subway everywhere, but not Blimpie. Subway would rather open a store somewhere and watch it fail (I know of two Subways not far from me that have closed) whereas, after a certain number of standalone Blimpie’s, they decided to go the food-court-truck-stop-gas-station route instead.

Su Su January 11, 2023 - 4:17 pm

Blimpie!! (In my Cuban home, it’s “Wimply.” ) So sorely missed in Washington Heights. I live right over the GWB these days and have thankfully found a couple of Blimpie places fairly close by. My 89 year-old mom CRAVES their subs. Jersey Mike’s and Subway’s don’t even remotely approach the Blimpie thing!

chris January 11, 2023 - 5:37 pm

I dont know.I used to be a fan.I think they started that trend where its now all
about the toppings,the cold cuts are secondary.Subway took that idea and took it
to another level.That way they save money on a sandwhich.Hey,have a little meat
and cheese to go along with your sandwhich.It should be the other way around.
Manganaros on 9th Ave. was my favorite.I can still taste their prosciutto number
to this day.Gone but not forgotten

Pedro Rodriguez January 11, 2023 - 5:47 pm

I will always remember Blimpie’s they were good I recall my cousin, and I . We’re in Times Square to watch Saturday night fever movie back in 1977. We brought a blimpe sandwich to take and eat while watching the movie so funny .

Lindsey January 11, 2023 - 7:58 pm

I went to the one in downtown Brooklyn quite a bit while I was a student at NYC College of Technology. If the one at East 45th Street and 2nd Avenue was still there, I could just walk to it from where I live at, though the restaurant that replaced it has many terrific hero sandwiches too.

J B January 12, 2023 - 9:21 am

Growing up went to the Blimpies on Queens Blvd right off 63 ave. Tuna with peppers. They had THE best tuna! It’s been gone 20 years or more now

Candice January 13, 2023 - 1:19 pm

There was a Blimpie in the 90s on Allerton Avenue in the Bronx that I frequented with my dad. Always got the #6 with sweet peppers. They burned it down to get the insurance money in the late 90s. After that there was only 1 left that I know of on CastleHill Ave and it’s literally part Bodega. The sandwiches there are absolute trash. Smfh Blimpie needs to make a comeback..

David January 12, 2023 - 9:42 am

I frequented the one at 168 St and Jamaica Ave. Their original name was ‘Blimpie Base’. The word ‘Base’ on the signage was on the gondola.

redstaterefugee January 12, 2023 - 11:50 am

David: I worked at the Gertz Plaza office complex/mall from 1985-2004. During that time Blimpie’s was located in the Gertz Plaza basement food court. Ironically around 1993, Subway opened a location on Jamaica Avenue near 168 St. However it eventually failed & the location was closed.

Beth January 12, 2023 - 9:43 am

There was no better day than the ones where my parents, both tired from working late shifts, would get up too late to make us lunch and instead take us to Blimpie on Chambers Street before school! Just knowing I had a salami, cheese, lettuce, tomato, with salt, pepper and extra vinegar waiting for me in my lunchbox made the day much easier. I haven’t eaten meat in 22 years but I miss that vinegar-y Blimpie scent (and being a kid, of course).

RM January 12, 2023 - 12:35 pm

Been a Blimpie fan since childhood – love the Blimpie Best! There’s a Blimpies right near me, so I get to indulge.

I spoke to the people working here and they say Blimpie doesn’t train nor manage individual stores – people are on their own but must follow a set of rules for ingredients. Blimpie workers receive no training for making the sandwiches – apparently the workers are simply fans of Blimpie and know what a good sandwich is.
And the sandwiches are still huge and filling!

I love your site, always been a fan – for decades now, it seems. cheers!

Anita January 12, 2023 - 2:22 pm

Oh memories! Would grab these with my boyfriend in the 80s in the seedy neighborhood not far from Herald Square where all the music studios were. Always had these during his practices. Good times!

Michael Christopher Haggerty January 12, 2023 - 2:59 pm

We used to get Blimpie’s on 86th and Broadway for day camp trips back in the 1970’s. I now live in Wawa country; I can’t quite decide whether Wawa or Blimpie is better. But what is for sure is that Subway is awful.

Sheba January 12, 2023 - 4:32 pm

I just mentioned Blimpies to my husband this morning as he mentioned he was starving and wanted something to eat and we were in the Fulton area but ended up going elsewhere. I’ll take Blimpies any day

EPC January 12, 2023 - 5:46 pm

Interesting to see the mentions of the Blimpie at 2nd Ave & 45th Street. I lived 1 block away and loved that place! Still miss it. Had many lunches there with my late Mom. Blimpie club or pepperoni and provolone!

Ry January 12, 2023 - 6:00 pm

There’s actually a few Blimpies left in the Bronx. I know about the one on Gun Hill Rd.

Daniel Lafontant January 12, 2023 - 9:21 pm

I always loved Blimpie’s. We had one in Staten Island about 15 years ago. That was the last sandwich from there that I enjoyed. If I had some Powerball money, I would reinvest into reopening tthat brand.

Irvin Sam Schonfeld January 12, 2023 - 10:27 pm

I remember the Blimpie on the southeast corner of Eleventh Street and Sixth Avenue, in the Village. Occasionally, I got a sandwich there when I was taking an evening class. I was a math teacher during the day and a graduate student at night. Those were long sleep-deprived days. The first half of the 1970s.

D January 13, 2023 - 2:14 am

BLIMPIES!!!!!! YES!!!!! Extra onions!….lettuce/tomatoe…
mayo..vinegar on the bread!…extra sweet peppers!….salt..pepper…oregeno….turkey…salami…cheese..THE best!

Paul January 13, 2023 - 5:05 am

4th Ave and 12th Street and Broadway was excellent

Dennis from Staten Island January 13, 2023 - 6:59 am

Late December 2022, I came across a unicorn BLIMPIE(s) in the Bronx on the corner of Castle Hill Ave & Westchester Ave (under 6 train El). It shared space with Halal Gyro King. I thought no more existed. I ordered a BLT with oil & vinegar. For me, that was always the best thing about BLIMPIE(s), they’re distinctive & delicious O&V.

ShelleyB January 13, 2023 - 9:15 am

I too frequented Blimpies in the late 80s in NYC while attending HS. I have since moved to the Houston TX area and I recently saw one in the Suburbs of The Woodlands TX. Brings back nostalgia for me.

James Peach January 13, 2023 - 11:52 am

There is a Blimpies in the Bronx. I work in Family Court and it’s one of the highlights of my occasional lunch hour. It’s located on 161st and Concourse Village west. At least once a week I have to have a blimpies best.

Gary Fonville January 13, 2023 - 11:54 am

Don’t even get me started on Subway. Their sandwiches in tv ads are bulging with contents, presumably meat. If you visit a franchise, your sandwich will contain a small amount of thin, pre-sliced meat and cheese. Then it’s piled with fixings, falsely giving the perception that it’s an overloaded sandwich.

Personally, I only go there if it’s my only option. One of my last visits there was a one in Portsmouth, VA. due to lack of competition and desperation for a sandwich.

I know of a Subway on Myrtle & Vanderbilt Avenues in Clinton Hill, Brooklyn. Hardly any customers patronize. Where are they? There’s at a mom & pop sandwich emporium two blocka west at Adelphi & Myrtle Avenues. Expect to be in line for a wait of 30 minutes. They don’t pre-slice the cheese or meat. They slice and slice until you’ll feel they’ve slicing too much. Mmmmm.

Kevin Walsh January 13, 2023 - 1:43 pm

Farmer in the Deli?

Thomas A. Sinclair January 13, 2023 - 12:26 pm

Been loving Blimpies since 1971 but can’t find one in Manhattan. Brink back Blimpie!

Theodore Moore January 13, 2023 - 12:59 pm

There is a Blimpies on 106th street and 3rd ave in Manhattan. Theyjust changed the name to best sub. My favorite place..

Gena January 13, 2023 - 1:20 pm

I fondly recall the one by Brooklyn College in the 90s. I think it’s now a Credit Union.

Gary Fonville January 13, 2023 - 5:53 pm

To Kevin: That’s the soot!

Gary Fonville January 13, 2023 - 7:47 pm

I meant just the SPOT

Jeffery January 14, 2023 - 11:13 am

Blimpies is the Best, my favorite sandwiches were the Tuna melt, Blimpies Best and the one and only that was discontinued the Blimpies Peppersteak which was rectangular just like the burger but with more of a kick. NY needs Blimpies Back!

Steven Merlin January 14, 2023 - 12:07 pm

Anyone remember their motto?

Adam January 14, 2023 - 1:39 pm

I remember that downtown location from my college days. The interior was dumpy and looks like it wasn’t updated since the 80’s but the sandwiches were good. The Zams a few doors down made a much better hot sandwich if that was your thing (shame they disappeared).

Tal Barzilai January 15, 2023 - 5:36 am

I still don’t get how both Blimpie and Quizno’s lost out to Subway despite having better sandwiches not to mention having more flavor and meats at a normal price.

The Chief (tm) January 15, 2023 - 11:32 am


I went to Stuyvesant over on 15th, and the first time I (and one or two classmates) went to the Blimpie’s on 14th, we were shocked when we received what seemed to be two thin slices of meat and one thin slice of cheese, garnished with tons of the shredded lettuce. Was a joke compared to any number of “real” delis in the area, including DiBella’s on 1st Avenue, which had the gigantic salamis and proscuittos hanging from the ceiling. Never went back, never would.

JEN January 17, 2023 - 10:35 am

I loved their tuna with oil and vinegar (14th St!) and have not been able to replicate it anywhere else nor at home. I haven’t been able to eat gluten since 2014 but if I’m in Downtown BK anytime soon I hope to make an exception. Thanks for sharing this.


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