Dining With Denise Neil

An old-school Wichita sub shop has closed after 30 years

An old favorite has closed. Moe’s Sub Shop on South Hydraulic shut down sometime last week, a neighbor said.
An old favorite has closed. Moe’s Sub Shop on South Hydraulic shut down sometime last week, a neighbor said. The Wichita Eagle

Update, Jan. 11: I heard back today from the daughter of the Moe’s Sub Shop owner. She said that she and her mother closed the restaurant on Dec. 31 and that they had no plans to reopen it.

“We weren’t really as busy as we could be, and we just were like, ‘You know what? We can’t keep doing this,” said Haleigh Lewis, daughter of founder Marji Lanciano.

Lewis said she grew up in the restaurant and it was hard to let it go. Not going every day feels surreal, she said.

She said a few people have expressed interest in opening their own restaurants in the space, and her mother hopes to sell them the equipment and furniture from Moe’s.

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Moe’s Sub Shop, which opened in 1988 in a strip center called South City at 2815 S. Hydraulic, is no more. There’s a sign in the window offering the space for lease, and things are being packed up inside.

The owners closed it at the end of the year.

The sandwich shop, which was owned by Margi Lanciano, specialized in old-school Italian subs made on fresh-baked bread. The owner was famous for her policy of not putting lettuce on sandwiches unless the customer asked for it. She always said that she’d ordered a sub when she moved to Kansas from “back east” and that it had so much lettuce on it, she thought she had been served a salad.

Moe’s Sub Shop was tiny and no-frills, but it had a loyal following.

Here’s a review of Moe’s that my dear late colleague Diane Lewis wrote in August of 1990.

Moe’s speciality is submarines

By Diane Lewis

Moe’s Sub Shop is off the beaten track. Or at least off my beaten track. I happened upon Moe’s again recently when I took the wrong turn off I-135 in south Wichita.

That’s where Moe’s is in a strip center called South City in south Wichita. It’s a little place in the middle of the center. From the street you can see the big painted submarine sandwich on the window.

The gallon cans of Italian olive oil, recycled into planters for chives and parsley, in the front window are a clue to the authenticity of the sandwiches. Moe’s is small: 3 1/2 booths, a few tables, counter, two pinball machines and a video game. On the walls there are lots of Big 8 pennants, an Italian banner and a Three Stooges poster.

It just looks and feels like a neighborhood hangout.

The menu is submarine sandwiches: salami, turkey, pepperoni, ham, roast beef, tuna, seafood and ultimate. All come in three sizes, superhalf, regular and super. Prices range from $2.60 for a salami super half to $4.75 for a seafood or Moe’s ultimate.

The reason to eat a submarine sandwich in the first place is to get one with everything on it. Moe calls hers “the ultimate.” It is layered with provolone cheese, ham, genoa salami and turkey. And olive oil. (Other options: vinegar oil, hot zippa oil, mayo, mustards and barbecue sauce.)

‘’You want all the veggies?” the sandwich maker behind the counter asked. Sure. Tomatoes, thin-sliced sour pickles, green peppers and black olives.

So there it was: meat, cheese and veggies, stacked on a crusty loaf wrapped in waxed paper if it is a carryout, or served in a big basket if you’re eating in. A 10-inch regular is enough for two.

I was so glad to re-discover Moe’s that I went back a couple of days later to try one of the newer items on the menu, a meatball sub. It joined the menu when Moe (Marji Lanciano) discovered that her clientele didn’t share her enthusiasm for Italian sausage subs with green peppers and onions.

A half a meatball sub ($2.50) and a tossed salad ($1.25) made a good combination. Four meatballs in a mild, slightly sweet thick tomato sauce were topped with provolone cheese and heated melting the cheese, and resulting in a goopy concoction that required two hands and considerable concentration to eat with any grace at all.

The salad wasn’t particularly special, composed of lettuce, sliced tomatoes and green peppers, but it was crisp, fresh and low calorie with the addition of individual packet of “lite” ranch salad dressing.

There’s also a chef’s salad which includes meat and cheese. Dressings are a selection of prepackaged individual servings.

That salads are even on the menu is a strange turn of events.

Lanciano actually decided to open Moe’s because of lettuce. She said she ordered a submarine sandwich at a competitor’s, thinking it would be like those she ate “back East” before moving to Kansas. ‘‘There was so much lettuce! I hadn’t ordered a salad.”

Moe’s subs, which are made to order, contain no lettuce “unless you absolutely have to have it.” And that’s the way it has been since the doors opened on Nov. 4, 1988.

Beloved Wichita restaurants that closed their doors in 2018.

Denise Neil has covered restaurants and entertainment since 1997. Her Dining with Denise Facebook page is the go-to place for diners to get information about local restaurants. She’s a regular judge at local food competitions and speaks to groups all over Wichita about dining.


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