I found these old photos my Father took of the Atomic Subs. Atomic Subs was a chain of sandwich shops started in Lawrence, MA in the early ’60s by a entrepreneur named Bill Littlewood.
Although this is a New England story it really is a story about the American entrepreneurial spirit. While all of the uncertainty was going on in the world, The Cuban Missile Crisis for example, this guy decides to open a Submarine sandwich shop and call it “Atomic Sub” featuring “The Atlas”, a three-foot-long super sandwich.
These pictures are from one of the Lawrence, MA stores at 401 Broadway, and show Bill & his wife Marge.
Atomic Subs grew to 20 plus stores with locations in South Lawrence, Lawrence, Chelmsford, Lowell, Billerica, Merrimac, Amesbury, Haverhill and Ipswich, MA. There were also locations in Salem and Nashua, NH.
Some towns had multiple locations and I am sure I missed some. I remember going to the Salem store as a kid – it was on Route 28 where the Burger King is now in a big A frame building that used to be the VW dealership. I understand that the Nashua store was right down the street from the Retro Planet world headquarters.
The story goes that because of a dishonest bookkeeper, Bill was forced to close most of his stores. The Salem store remained open the longest but I’m pretty sure he had nothing to do with it towards the end. He moved to Brentwood, NH where he opened a little variety store and lived out the rest of his days.
My Father recalls that sometime along the way Bill was approached by a big company who wanted to buy his company and bring it national and that he turned them down. Who knows if things had gone a little differently we might be going into Atomic Subs for lunch instead of Subway.
Enjoy these shots of Atomic Subs – and if you have any memories of your own, please, do share.