New sub shop brings East Coast flavor to Marion

ORIGINALLY WRITTEN LAURA CAMPBELL
If you build it, they will come.

Kimberly Teesdale and Ida French put those words from the big screen’s “Field of Dreams” to the test when they opened Zimmerman’s Deli and Coffee Shop in Marion four months ago.

And apparently the statement is true of more than baseball diamonds, as the best friends with the motto of “we build sandwiches” are slowly but surely addicting Marionites and other area residents to their tasty creations.

Friends for longer than they can remember but especially close for the last five years, Teesdale and French suddenly found themselves face-to-face with their shared dream of running a sandwich shop when the corner building at 125 E. Main opened up in September.

Two weeks later, Zimmerman’s was open for business, they said.

“It was an opportunity that opened and we just jumped on it,” French said.

And with 14 hours of adding paint to the walls and fumes to their lungs- “I think that’s what happened to us,” French added with a laugh-the women replaced the deep jewel tones of the room’s former look with shades of soft green and yellow that make the open, airy space uniquely theirs.

Photographs taken by French herself add an even more personal touch, lining the walls in frames as varied as the pictures they hold.

The shop shares its moniker with the nickname of a friend of theirs, Teesdale said.

“We looked at all the ‘Z’ names, and we kept coming back to Zimmerman,” she said. “It’s also Bob Dylan’s real last name, and we like his music.”

Open seven days a week, the sunny sub shop is now a second home to the friends, who no longer have to spend their days working separate jobs as they did before-Teesdale at St. Luke Hospital and French at Western Graphics.

“We wanted to work for ourselves, and we wanted to hang out all day,” Teesdale said.

Serving sandwiches and coffee is their way to get people to come hang out with them, and it’s working pretty well, French said.

And while they’ve built up a list of regulars, Teesdale said it’s difficult to estimate how many come through on a given day.

“There haven’t been two weeks when it’s alike,” she said.

“It changes.”

What doesn’t change is the quality of their sandwiches and soups-only the freshest, most authentic ingredients make the cut, they said.

“We went shopping for good meat, good bread and went from there,” Teesdale said.

“We saw what was available to us on the market that we liked and we just put it together.”

Inspired by the hoagies that Philadelphia native Teesdale grew up eating on the East Coast, their sandwich menu includes the bestselling Zimmerman and Dago! versions of the hoagie as well as the classic American and Italian.

Prices for individual sandwiches range from $2.45 for a BLT to $5.95 for a roast beef or turkey pastrami. For an extra $1.25, customers can add two sides to any sandwich, which by itself provides a meal that’s nothing to scoff at.

“They’re more like homemade sandwiches,” French said. “Our sub is like a two-handed sub.”

Customers can even participate in the building process-on some sandwiches, they get their choice of cheese, toppings and bread.

“Sometimes if they’re really pretty, they get a picture taken,” French said of the creations.

The offerings may vary by the week based on the owners’ discoveries while grocery shopping.

“If there’s a bread that we find on sale that’s nice, I’ll go buy a couple loaves to try for a day and see what people like,” French said.

So far, they haven’t disappointed their diverse customer base.

“People like all of it, and they’re all different,” French said.

“Some people experiment, and others stick to what they like-the first thing they try, if they like it, they stick to it.

“I know one lady had five Zimmermans in one week,” she added.

Some people just try the daily special listed on the board, which varies from week to week.

Meanwhile, the lunch special remains the same: half of a ham, turkey or roast beef sandwich and a bowl of soup for $4.25.

“Our lunch special’s a very good deal,” Teesdale said. “It says half a sandwich, but it’s still two pieces of bread-it’s still a full sandwich.”

Also a good deal is the weekend special-two hoagies for $8.88 or two meals for $10.88.

But whatever the special, customers can depend on the vegetables to be cut fresh every day and the bread to be toasted or grilled-never fried.

“The reuben’s toasted, not grilled, which means that you retain all of the flavor and it’s good for you,” Teesdale said.

Possible soups of the day include cream of potato, cream of broccoli, chicken with wild rice, chicken noodle, ham and bean and chili, Teesdale said.

“We’ve tried other things, but those are the ones people seem to like,” she said.

The women are getting to know pretty well what individual customers like-so much so that they can often tell who’s calling by the sound of their voice and how they order their sandwich.

And they won’t hesitate to ask a familiar customer at the end of a long line to run out and buy them a loaf of bread or some whipped cream if they’re running out.

“It’s nice to be in a small town where you can do that,” Teesdale said with a smile. “We have a good support system.”

Other baked goods available anytime of day include muffins, bagels, biscuits and toast.

Caffeine is available, too, in a variety of shapes and sizes-from the traditional coffee, tea or soda pop to the Zany Buzz or Razz Ma Tazz, all are sure to keep the customers and owners alike from getting any Zs for a while.

And if they choose to stay awhile, customers can always find a comfy couch to chill on with the latest newspapers and magazines.

“There’s always something to read,” French said. “We’ve had girls that are 9 or 10 years old that’ll come in here, and they’ll just sit and read magazines.”

It’s the coolness of their customers that make the whole thing worthwhile for the best friends-that and the music that drifts from their stereo system and sometimes from the piano in the corner.

“I was going to put a sign on it that said ‘Play Me,’ but I really didn’t need to,” Teesdale said. “They can’t help but tickle them ivories.

“The only time we don’t let the children play on the piano is when they’re jumping off of it,” she added. “Just as long as they don’t pound on it, anybody is welcome to play on it.”

Memorable moments include one woman who just stopped for coffee on a trip across Kansas-but ended up paying a tribute to the state with a lovely rendition of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.”

“That was beautiful,” Teesdale said. “It put us in a good mood even-we were nice to each other.”

With the amount the time the friends spend together, it’s only natural that they’ll occasionally get on each other’s nerves-and that customers will witness it.

“They walk up while we’re fighting,” Teesdale said, smiling. “They just wait for us to get done.”

The two have been close ever since Teesdale came looking for the countryside more than a dozen years ago.

“I was always walking the concrete jungle, looking for a way out,” she said. “When I was 17, I had that opportunity and I took it.”

Years later, she isn’t tired of her new home or her best friend.

“What’s funny is, we’re together all the time and still some nights, you’ll find Ida at my house,” Teesdale said. “Or you’ll find me at Ida’s house.”

Both agreed they couldn’t have undertaken this venture with anyone else, since their goal isn’t so much to make a lot of money as to have a good time.

And for now, that’s enough for these seat-of-the-pants kind of gals.

“We’re going to ride with it,” Teesdale said. “There’s some future dreams, but at this point we’re going to try to stay consistent and be cool like always.”

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