Dan’s Sub Shop
You really can’t speak of growing up in that Southwest Baltimore neighborhood without mentioning Dan’s Sub Shop. I don’t know if it opened in the early or mid 1960’s but Dan’s seemed to be an immediate hit. Dan’s business seemed to bring a certain energy and vitality to the neighborhood as it became the focal point for much of the activity, both day and night. One of the unique things about Dan’s is that it wasn’t just a young crowd or an older crowd that frequented the place but it attracted people of all ages. For instance, there was an Italian woman that they called ‘Miss Rosa’ who lived right across from Dan’s and she would come in several times a day and play the pinball machine often cussing in Italian when things weren’t going her way. Mrs. Meushaw was another that spent some time over there, and of course Mrs. Floyd worked there for many years. It was a gathering spot for young and old, as it attracted people of all sorts.
Dan’s was also the first job for many in the neighborhood. Many of the young girls in the area spent time behind the counter cooking and dishing up the food for the patrons. I myself worked for Dan off and on for a couple of years, working on his properties and although Dan never paid a lot, I believe I earned about $0.80 an hour but I probably came out ahead as I ate the equivalent of $10 in food with those Haddock platters and Steak subs. As for the food itself, although not considered healthy by today’s standards, was nonetheless very tasty, and for a small business, had quite the menu. I still believe that Dan’s Foot Long with fried onions, hot stuff and the rest of the goodies was one of the best foot longs I’ve ever had.
Dan himself was a good hearted Irishman that worked for many years as a butcher until I imagine the bug to own his own business hit him and Dan’s Sub Shop was born. Dan was quite succesful for a while, as he eventually owned three stores, the one on Millington, another on Washington Boulevard in Pigtown, and one over in Lansdowne across from the Lansdowne Inn. He also owned several real estate properties. Unfortunately, a series of mishaps, some of his own doing worked against him, and he eventually had to wind up closing all of the shops. I remember clearly the day when I was working on his house on Ashton Street, when someone started banging on the door, telling me that Dan’s house was on fire(he had bought the house next to the shop that once belonged to the Boo’s Boo’s). I ran down to Fine’s Hardware as I knew that was where he had gone, and found him there, and out of breath, told him that his house on Millington Avenue was on fire. He left and drove up to the house only to find that it was pretty much gutted.
Dan himself was a good man with a big heart, but he was also as tough as nails. As I mentioned in a previous post, there were a lot of tough guys in the neighborhood at that time, but none of them messed with Mr. Dan as he was not one to be fooled with. Although he generally was an upbeat kind of guy, I remember seeing him when he was angry, and was not one that you would want to encounter in a physical altercation. I remember that Dan was shot once when someone tried to rob the store, and although he had been shot in the head, the bullet was a glancing one, and exited from his jaw. Dan told me that he was lying on the floor, kicking at the guy with his feet with everything he had to keep the guy from shooting him again. Dan did indeed suffer a series of mishaps, but I don’t remember him being bitter about it. As I lived down at his house on Ashton Street upstairs for about a year, we had many conversations and I don’t remember him dwelling on his reversal of fortune.
Dan’s was the place to be for many years for the residents of Southwest Baltimore and there were many who came from outside of the area to hang out at Dan’s as well. It was indeed the happening place for several years. The business remained open for a few years after Dan sold it, but it was not the same. Dan’s unique character and the times back then made it the special place that it was for many of us, and Dan’s Sub Shop will always have a special place in memory for those who grew up during that time.
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