Primo Hoagies, a New Jersey-based sandwich shop specializing in Philadelphia-style Italian hoagies and cheesesteaks, will open its latest store in Bel Air on Tuesday.
Located in the Rock Spring Shopping Center on Route 24 north of downtown Bel Air, it is just the second Primo Hoagies shop in Maryland.
To celebrate the grand opening, the shop will give away a free Primo-sized sandwich to the first 100 customers. Primo-sized (10-inch) hoagies will also be available all day for $6.99 for all customers. Doors open at 10 a.m.
“I have been watching this area grow leaps and bounds over the past few years and I really wanted to be a part of this amazing transformation,” said Paul Lettieri, co-owner of the restaurant with his neighbor, Gerald Werner.
“Food seems to be one of the main drivers to get people out. So, I thought what better way to add to the retail mix than opening a Primo Hoagies and bring the taste of Philly to its southern neighbors in Maryland.”
Lettieri and Werner are both Philadelphia-area transplants who are now neighbors in Forest Hill — they knew each other through their wives, who had worked together in the Philadelphia area, and both were transferred to the Maryland around the same time three years ago. This is their first venture into franchising a restaurant.
“When we came to Maryland, we were sitting around Jerry’s pool, and said, ‘You know what would be great? A Primo’s hoagie,’” Lettieri explained.
He was surprised to learning many of their neighbors and friends were familiar with the Primo Hoagies brand.
All of the sandwiches are made-to-order and include the “freshest, highest-quality meats,” Lettieri said.
“But the magic is in the roll,” he said. “We bake our own bread on premises that we get from Liscio’s bakery out of Philadelphia. It has a sesame seed crust that kind of snaps when you bit it with a soft center … it’s a lot different than what you’ll find at Wawa or Subway.”
Werner said the location, in the same shopping center with Giant supermarket, Planet Fitness and Tuesday Morning on Route 24 near the interchange with the Bel Air Bypass, is excellent.
“There are over 30,000 cars traveling on Rock Spring Road daily so we think we will have a pretty captive audience,” Werner said. “The store has an eat-in area and we offer take-out and free delivery.”
The Bel Air store will be Primo Hoagies 86th location. The company also has stores in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Virginia, Georgia, South Carolina and Florida, and opened a store in Ocean City in 2010.
“We are continually expanding our footprint throughout the east coast,” Primo Hoagies President and CEO Rocco Fiorentino said in a news release. “The organization is proud to partner with Paul and Gerald as they open the second Primo Hoagies in Maryland.”
Lettieri said he and Werner have signed on to open four Primo Hoagies stores in Maryland. While the next locations have not yet been determined, he said they are considering Bel Air South and the Timonium area in Baltimore County as potential options.