Familiar Italian Sandwich Franchise Comes To Plaistow

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Maybe it's the special ingredients in the salami. Or the recipe for fresh baked bread. Or the pickles swimming in a specially seasoned brine.

Mike and Dianne Plante, who have lived in Plaistow for 11 years, are betting the hometown crowd will enjoy taking a bite and deciding for themselves why Moe's Original tastes different than other Italian subs.

They plan to open the 11th Moe's Italian Sandwich Shop in an Early Bird Plaza storefront on Plaistow Road (Route 125) across from Sanborn's Fine Candy. With luck, they will open the doors before June 1, he said.

Plante, 42, gained experience with the restaurant business working for Dunkin' Donuts. He was a corporate director of operations for more than a dozen years. He traveled to stores to supervise training and make sure the workers were true to the Dunkin' Donuts standards.

"A lot of my confidence in opening this franchise comes from my Dunkin' Donuts experience," he said.

Plante and his wife also are longtime fans of franchise founder, the late Phil "Moe" Pagano. They used to line up to buy their Moe's Original at the Front Street shop in Exeter.

"The big thing is, after you eat it, you crave another," said Dianne Plante, 45. "It's the fresh bread and combination of meats and vegetables. You get a little bit in every bite." Her husband describes her as the woman who loves the Moe Original sandwich more than life itself.

He said he has no doubt the Moe's brand will pack people in.

"So many people already have heard of Moe's," he said, "they'll tell the people who haven't." Cheryl Pagano of Hampstead, granddaughter of the franchise founder, said she's thrilled to see a new shop open around the corner from her new home. She moved to Hampstead about a year ago because it was close to family and friends, and convenient to work. In her job, she travels to all the Moe's franchise stores. Pagano expects the 12th store will open in September, but is keeping the location a secret.

"I'm not going to jinx it by naming the town," she said.

Pagano, who grew up in Methuen, Mass., said her grandfather told her the Moe's Original recipe was based on a dish his mother made for him. The salami, pickle brine, bread and olive oil are all proprietary, she said.

The store sells other kinds of sandwiches "" including tuna, chicken salad and meatball "" and box lunches, and will cater parties and events.

The Plaistow store hours are pending town approval, but the plan is to stay open from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. weekdays, Plante said. On the weekend, the store may open a little later.

Plante said yesterday he won't mind if customers start calling him Moe. The flooring contractor already does, he said.

"They're big shoes to fill," Pagano laughed.

Moe was not her grandfather's real name, either. When he bought the sandwich store 50 years ago, he decided to keep the name. He thought it would be bad luck to change it, she said.

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Moe's Italian Sandwiches
1 New Hampshire Avenue
Portsmouth, NH

Phone: (603) 570-4834

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