Owner Nick Giovanniello’s shop is up and running at 47-31 Vernon Blvd. after an unforeseen setback caused him to postpone his original May 2018 opening date.
According to Giovanniello, he and his staff were “ready to roll” when the Department of Buildings (DOB) found a gas leak in the building and ordered the gas to be shut off. The owner said it took months for the building’s landlord to contract workers and for the workers to complete the proper repairs.
He was given the “OK” to open the shop right before Christmas but decided to wait until after the holidays to have his soft opening on Jan. 10.
“We were bum rushed,” Giovanniello said. “I think taking so long to open worked out in our favor because there was so much anticipation and buzz about it.”
Giovanniello’s career path prior to opening up the gourmet sandwich shop was not a linear one. He drove a truck, worked for the Department of Transportation and was an employee at a mobile car wash before making his first foray into running his own restaurant.
“They say if you do something you love, you’ll never work a day in your life,” he said, adding that he wanted to find that feeling in the next job that he took.
He became a partner at Sergio’s on the Boulevard pizzeria in Long Island City but felt the urge to branch out on his own. He shared that he had always wanted to open an Italian or Spanish restaurant, so a friend gave him the idea to open up his own sandwich shop called “Reubens and Cubans.”
“I didn’t like the name but I liked the idea,” he recalled and set out to learn everything about the sandwich and deli business.
Giovanniello learned the deli business from the owner of Sapienza in Howard Beach, who taught him to make the pastrami for the shop’s signature sandwich. But he also credits much of his success to his family, particularly his father who he said “taught me everything I know in life.”
The store’s name was born out of him sharing with his family that he wanted to be “known for the best” and so his father came up with the name “The Sandwich King.” The shop owner said that his father was also the one who taught him the importance of having a “spotless and clean” business operation.
In addition to the signature pastrami, other sandwiches include the “Mikey Bangz,” a chicken cutlet hero named for his older brother, the self-named “Nicky Cash” which features prosciutto and fresh mozzarella and “The Williamsburg Windmill,” a roast beef sandwich named for his grandfather who was a famous boxer in the 1950s.
The Sandwich King is currently opened seven days a week from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. from Monday to Saturday and 6 a.m. to a to-be-determined time on Sundays.