From speakeasy to sub shop: Franchisees transform historic inn

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By Dan Sears

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Those who will be visiting Jersey Mike’s Subs newest Long Island location may feel like they’ve stepped back in time. 

That’s because the sandwich shop is on the ground floor of a redeveloped building at 1500 Smithtown Ave. in Bohemia has been constructed to mimic the historic Normandie Inn that occupied the site for about a century. 

An affiliate of Management 360 LLC, the franchise firm headed by Alvin Goldstein, Marvin Goldfarb, Mitchell Cohen and Seth Goldstein, purchased the long-vacant, gothic-style property for $320,000 in 2019 with plans to restore the building. The project would prove to be a challenge.

The old Normandie Inn. / Photo by David Winzelberg

The Normandie Inn property had quite a history. Formerly known as the Hotel Chateau La Boheme, the structure sat on a narrow triangular piece of land where Lakeland Avenue meets Smithtown Avenue and was originally built as a residence for a Czech baron in the 1920s before it was turned into a speakeasy during prohibition. 

The inn had become a popular place to tie one on and sleep it off with its two floors of guest rooms above the bar. Rudolph Valentino was reported to have spent at least one night in the biggest room on the top floor, and decades later, Deep Purple guitarist Richie Blackmore was also said to frequent the place. 

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Vacant and boarded up since 2004, the property was formerly owned by a St. James-based interior design firm which had plans to turn it into a furnishings and design showroom, but after some renovations were underway, the plan was scrapped when the project became too daunting. 

The property’s new owner, Normandy Inn Property LLC, is an affiliate of Management 360, a former Dunkin Donuts franchisee that had 16 Long Island locations until 2005. It now owns Sola Salons, a salon suites business with locations in Plainview, Merrick and one soon-to-open in Oceanside. It also owns eight Jersey Mike’s, including the Bohemia shop, which opens Wednesday, Feb. 14. 

The franchisees have had their eyes on the historic inn site for a while.   

“We knew the property because we built the Dunkin Donuts just down the street in 2005,” said Seth Goldstein, a franchise firm principal. 

But soon after Management 360, which has its corporate offices nearby, acquired the Bohemia property and began restoration efforts, the building collapsed. About $1.7 million later, a redeveloped version of the historic structure, complete with a new 1,500-square-foot Jersey Mike’s, was created. 

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“The New Normandy Inn is reborn, designed and built to honor the former building,” Seth Goldstein said. “We are excited to bring Jersey Mike’s to the Bohemia community, housed in this spot with so much intriguing local history. Please enjoy our hospitality, our great subs and the good spirits of the New Normandy Inn.” 

To celebrate the opening, the Bohemia property and franchise owners will hold a grand opening and fundraiser from Wednesday, Feb. 14 to Sunday, Feb. 18 to support Long Island Cares. Customers who receive a special fundraising coupon distributed through a grassroots effort prior to the opening can make a minimum $2 contribution to Long Island Cares in exchange for a regular sub. Customers must have a coupon to be eligible. 

Goldstein expects the company’s newest sub shop will be as successful as its others. 

“Business is great,” he said. “The Long Island community has been great to Jersey Mike’s.” 

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