Looking for an authentic Philly cheesesteak sandwich? It's a specialty at Zero's Subs, a national chain that's now in Modesto.
Eddie and Lucy Hakimi, who opened their North Carpenter Road franchise in January, say no one in town can beat their hot Philly sub. It contains rib-eye steak instead of roast beef and is marinated in a tasty secret sauce.
Started in Virginia Beach, Va., in 1967, Zero's has 90 restaurants nationally and in New Zealand. It serves hot and cold sandwiches piled high with meat and cheese; it also has chicken wings, pizza and nachos.
Eddie Hakimi is a former computer tech who turned to the food business because he was sick of commuting to the Bay Area. He owned a deli in an office building but decided to switch to a franchise because of the credibility.
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"It seems people trust franchises more," he said.
He was interested in Zero's because there aren't many in California and because he liked the variety of the menu. He traveled to Virginia to learn more and to try the food, and was sold once he tasted the Philly cheesesteak sandwich.
"So many places in Modesto have offered it, but it wasn't authentic," he said.
Customers love the Italian grinder, made with two types of ham and salami, and the freshly baked breads. The breads are only half-baked in advance and are baked the rest of the way once the sandwiches are ordered. That way, the bread stays fresh and soft.
The Hakimis worked hard to make the restaurant inviting as a gathering place. They've set up an arcade room with video games and installed two large-screen TVs to show sports. A small group of regulars meets there after work for beers.
Eddie Hakimi said the sandwiches are better than what is available at the other famous sandwich chains.
"The amount of meat we put on subs is a lot more," he said.