Breaking new ground

People can eat healthy even without getting out of their

Ever since Roman Singh Nahal can remember, he’s been around the Subway Restaurant franchise.
Now it’s his turn to take the reins of his own restaurant, which just happens to feature the first drive-thru in the Bay Area.
With a little help from his dad, the 24-year-old who studied business administration marking at San Francisco State celebrated the grand opening on Oct. 29 of the store in the McCarthy Business Park in Gilroy.
The restaurant was originally scheduled to open in June, but Singh Nahal had trouble getting all the required permits in order.
“We’re just trying to get the word out,” he said. “We’re excited about being here. I feel blessed to have this opportunity.”
The concept of a Subway drive-thru is popular on the East Coast but hasn’t really caught on in the west, he said.
“A lot of owners around here don’t want to take a gamble with a drive-thru, because they’re not exactly sure how it works,” he said. “It’s a lot more expensive because there is two of everything. It is like having two Subways.”
But Singh Nahal, one of the youngest franchise owners in the state, is not afraid to seek out advice from others who have been successful. He has even shared information with Subway drive-thru owners in Germany and Australia, he said.
Singh Nahal’s parents purchased their first Subway in 1991 and currently own five locations throughout in the Bay Area. Singh Nahal joked that at age 4 he actually gave his dad permission to buy the store.
“It was a hunch,” Singh Nahal said. “Back in 1991 no one had heard of it. It was kind of a risk for my dad to be taking. He had a good feeling about it. He had no idea that it would blow up and become what it is today.”
His parents moved to the United States from India in the 1980s and had little money in their pockets at the time before they invested in the chain.
One of the Subways the family founded was the one just a few miles away on 10th Street. It was given to Singh Nahal’s cousin, Jasvir Nahal, and now there is a friendly rivalry between the stores.
“It is actually one of the top 10 selling stores in the Bay Area; that is why I hate him,” Singh Nahal said jokingly. “With his single store, he is doing way better than I and my dad are doing with five. If I had one store to focus on, it better be the best in the Bay Area.”
After Singh Nahal graduated from SFSU in 2010, he sold USB devices and hard drives for computers with Super Talent Technology. When the opportunity arose to own his own franchise, he jumped on it.
“My dad basically gave me an ultimatum asking me if I wanted to do it or not,” he said. “I was like ‘hell yeah, I want to do this.’ His only deal was that I had to quit my job. He told me if I was going to do it, I had to be all in.”
Singh Nahal reluctantly gave up his job and took the two-week hands-on boot camp training at the Subway headquarters in Connecticut.
“I kind of came up with the idea of the drive-thru,” Singh Nahal said. “I didn’t think my dad would actually move forward with it and put everything together to get it done.”
As a four-year basketball player in college, Singh Nahal knows the importance of eating healthy, something Subway is known for.  Several collegiate teams have stopped in on the way to or from games and have purchased the popular to go lunch boxes.
Being the first restaurant commuters see when they come to Gilroy is important to its success, he said. He plans to reach out to people in the community and to his neighbors in the plaza: Tractor Supply, Sonic and Springleaf Financial. He has already offered free coffee to local law enforcement agencies and is looking into donating bread to the local community agencies to feed the needy.
Singh Nahal is a big believer in the power of social media. People who check in on their Facebook page receive a special offer. He plans on staying open 24 hours during Black Friday after Thanksgiving to give shoppers a place to go stay warm.
“It is a personal challenge for me,” he said. “My dad has done everything for me, and I want to return the favor and make sure we do it the right way. It is great we are the first in the Bay Area with a drive-thru and great for the city of Gilroy. My whole goal is to get the community involved any way I can.”
Subway is open from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. but Singh Nahal eventually hopes to stay open until midnight. The restaurant caters for special events.
Contact Subway at (408) 847-3300 or
[email protected]

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