ARIZONA NEWS

Longtime Valley sub shop gets new owner but keeps legacy

May 23, 2024, 4:35 AM | Updated: 9:13 am

The Old Station Sub Shop has new owner who wants to honor past...

Bill Ellis is the new owner of the downtown Phoenix eatery. (Photos: KTAR News, Old Station Subs)

(Photos: KTAR News, Old Station Subs)

PHOENIX — The Old Station Sub Shop is a longtime fixture in downtown Phoenix. It’s nestled between Arizona’s capitol and the state’s largest homeless shelter. Its new owner, Bill Ellis, said he wants to preserve the restaurant’s legacy while modernizing it.

“It has so much charm, you know, food aside, the building itself has so much personality,” Ellis told KTAR News 92.3 FM.

Ellis said his goal is to keep the classic interior mostly the same. However, he may add another license plate or two to the shop’s heavily decorated walls.

The Old Station Sub Shop has had its ups and downs

For nearly four decades, Joe and Pat Faillace have operated the sub shop. Two months ago, the couple said they planned to sell the shop.

Some Valley residents were concerned it would never open its doors again.

Joe said part of their decision to shut down was due to the lingering impact of The Zone. This multi-block encampment consisted of sprawling tents and shelters occupied by unhoused people.

The Old Station Sub Shop was close to both The Zone and the Key Campus. Formerly known as the Human Services Campus, this facility houses Central Arizona Shelter Services (CASS).

Before The Zone was cleared in November 2023, former shop owner Joe Faillace was part of an active lawsuit against the city of Phoenix.

The lawsuit’s purpose was to urge city leaders to do something about the encampments.

According to city documents, a total of 716 people were removed from The Zone over a six-month period starting in May 2023.

Same shop, new owner

Months later, the area remains clear of urban camping and change may be coming for the surrounding community.

That’s why Bill Ellis decided to jump into his first business venture. He says the Faillaces gave him some guidance in his first days of navigating The Old Station Sub Shop.

Ellis said he is confident the city of Phoenix will keep the area clean. There’s nothing for customers to be afraid of, he added.

“I wouldn’t have bought the business if I didn’t feel that way,” Ellis said.

Despite heavy news coverage of The Zone and criticisms against how long the city took to clear it, Ellis says things are quiet in the area now.

Well, except for the lunch rush, he added.

“Unfortunately it has been quite a story. But come and see it’s an entirely different place,” Ellis said.

He also said he is hopeful for the area to grow and improve. City leaders already plan to extend the light rail near the shop. Additionally, developers have broken ground on a new development across the street.

“In time, this could be an entirely area than it has been and what it is right now,” Ellis said.

One thing he doesn’t want to change is The Old Station Sub Shop itself. Its roots go back as a 1920s gas station. Its decades-old menu is still displayed near the cash register.

“(I’m) keeping this little 1928 gas station, sub shop, going as long as I possibly can,” Ellis said.

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Longtime Valley sub shop gets new owner but keeps legacy