Signs advertising Mother's Subs at the Exxon station along Eisenhower Boulevard in Swatara Township are stopping many in their tracks.
After nearly 35 years, the oversized sub sandwiches built on crusty bread are back.
"When I was driving by I looked twice. I said 'It can't be,'" said Dave Ardan of Susquehanna Township.
Legions of Mother's Subs' fans recall the 10-inch half and 20-inch whole subs piled with meats, cheese, tomatoes, onions and lettuce and served with sides of sweet or hot peppers.
At one time, six Mother's Subs shops operated in the Harrisburg area from a Harrisburg Mall outpost to four locales in the city and one in Palmyra. It was long before the arrival of Subway and sub shops on every corner and strip mall. It shut down in 1981.
"They're a great sub. We were really disappointed when we couldn't find them," Ardan said.
Now thanks to Victor Warke, Mother's Subs is once again selling its sandwiches to the delight of customers who are finding out about the shop at 770 Eisenhower Blvd. mostly via word of mouth.
The shop opened in October. At first, it seems odd to find it planted inside of a gas station. But customers don't seem to mind. They are excited to get a taste of the subs after more than three decades.
The menu covers Italian subs, roast beef and cheese, tuna salad, chicken salad and nearly a dozen other combinations of ham, bacon, turkey, roast beef and cheeses.
"There's nothing like it," said Bobbi Luckett of Middletown. "I think it's probably the quality of the meat."
Warke's father and uncles were the original owners of Mother's Subs. His mother also operated the Pepper Pot restaurant in Lower Paxton Township which sold similar subs.
For years Warke said he thought about resurrecting the brand but was busy running another business and coaching baseball. "It was a lifelong dream," he said. "I figured if I didn't do it I would never do it and regret it."
He is joined by friend, George Cvijic. They also opened a Mother's Subs stand in September at the Saturday's Market in Londonderry Township.
Since opening the takeout sub shops, Warke and Cvijic said they have heard hundreds of stories from customers. One person relayed the story of being engaged inside a Mother's Subs. Another recalled eating the subs before evacuating to Florida during the Three Mile Island incident, Warke said.
After nearly three decades, replicating the sandwiches could have proved to be a challenge. But Warke said he relied on his memory.
They are working with a local baker and conducted three taste-tests of the roll before settling on a final recipe. It was important the rolls be soft in the inside and crusty on the outside, just like the original Mother's Subs.
"It's quality meat, a great roll and great price for your money," Cvijic said.
Half 10-inch sub prices start at $6.75 while 20-inch subs start at $13.
The shop is open 10 a.m.-8 p.m., daily. Phone is 717-565-1420.