Jay Cundy is a firm believer in standing pat when things are going well, and things have been going pretty well for almost eight years at his Jay’s Hoagies restaurant.
“I follow the lead of Laspadas Original Hoagies in Fort Lauderdale,” Cundy said. “It’s real popular, and they never change anything.”
Then Cundy admitted he has made one minor change.
“The company that made my sweet peppers got bought out, and the peppers weren’t the same anymore,” he said. “So I started experimenting and now make my own.”
The slices of sweet peppers available as an add-on for the hoagies are something like a pickled pepper with a sweet edge. They are delicious.
I was tipped off about the sweet peppers by a granddaughter, Grace, her husband, Reid, and grandson, Gabe, who operate a business in Chimney Pointe, where Jay’s is located.
They admitted they almost always order the same things. They go for the Aimee with turkey and cheese, Nana’s chicken salad and the Flying Pig with turkey and ham. All add sweet peppers.
Cundy recommends the hoagies be dressed with tomatoes, lettuce, onions, oil, vinegar, salt, pepper, oregano, pickles and sweet or hot peppers, but customers essentially build their own. Diners select white or wheat bread and may choose add-ons from seven dressings, three spices, five cheeses and seven vegetables.
“People can build them however they want,” Cundy said. “If they want vinegar and oil plus creamy ranch, that’s fine, whatever combination works for them.”
For our visit, we ordered Nana’s chicken salad and Jay’s Fav with cheese and roast beef. We took Cundy’s suggestions on the basic condiments and added sweet peppers.
The chicken salad hit my sweet spot. It was loaded with chunks of chicken, a little celery and mayo, and a hint of black pepper.
“This was my grandmother’s recipe, and I love it,” Cundy said. “I don’t like it when people put all kinds of stuff in their chicken salad.”
We selected provolone cheese to go with the sliced roast beef piled high on Jay’s Fav. It wasn’t fancy, but it was tasty.
Cundy said he purchases the locally made hoagie rolls daily, and if some are left over at the end of the day, he donates them to a food bank.
Those who don’t want bread can order a naked hoagie, basically a salad, for about $6.
The menu is printed on a chalkboard. Four-inch hoagies are about $4, 6-inch $5 and change, and 12-inch about $10. A message on the board says, “Ask about an 8-inch.”
“A lot of people get the 6-inch and are still hungry,” Cundy said. “Some get the 12-inch and say, ‘What did I just do to myself?’ So I added an 8-inch priced between the 6-inch and 12-inch, but I didn’t have room on the board to add it.”
Cundy also has a food truck, usually parked out front, and handles numerous catering jobs.
Old-school sports fans will delight in the décor, which includes a variety of photos and posters featuring Ted Williams, Babe Ruth, Joe DiMaggio, old Crosley Field in Cincinnati, players from Cincy’s Big Red Machine in the ’70s, a ’93 photo of the Florida Marlins and a large image of New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning.
It helps to know that Cundy’s father grew up in Kentucky, across the state line from Cincinnati, that his father knew the DiMaggio family and Cundy formerly resided in south Florida before moving to Tulsa about 30 years ago. He worked as an insurance agent and owned a telecommunications business before opening Jay’s Hoagies.
“I used to hang most of this stuff in my office at work. My wife said there would be no man cave at home, so I brought them to the restaurant. My father-in-law gave me that,” Cundy said, pointing to a wall clock with the words “MAN CAVE” printed on the face.
How does he explain the Eli Manning poster?
“Easy,” he said. “Eli and the Giants beat New England in Super Bowl XLII, ending the Patriots’ unbeaten season and keeping them from matching the unbeaten record of my ’72 Miami Dolphins. I’m OK if the record is matched but never by the Jets, Bills and especially the Patriots.”
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