CEDAR FALLS — From a car wash to sub sandwiches, the name Neptune has been a staple in the Cedar Valley for more than 30 years.
Ken and JoDee Neptune began their entrepreneurship in 1985 with Neptune’s Car Wash, followed by a laundromat on Lincoln Street and Sub City on the Hill, which the couple purchased in 2002 in partnership with their son, Chris Marchese.
Now, Marchese is adding to the family business tree with a new Sub City branch on the Main Street Parkade.
Doors opened for business Wednesday at 111 Main St., the previous site of Boardwalk Deli. Marchese was able to purchase the equipment, lease the building and do some minor remodeling in less than a month.
“It was a quick swap, and away we went,” he said. “There wasn’t a whole lot to do since it was already set up as a deli.”
Marchese has five employees and hopes to add another five as business picks up.
Across town near the University of Northern Iowa campus on the Hill sits the original Sub City, although it has twice relocated.
Bob Dickson opened the store on 23rd Street by University Book & Supply in the 1980s. He later added two in Waterloo and one each in Marshalltown, Cedar Rapids and Waverly. Dickson later sold each of them separately.
Later the store was relocated to 2218 College St., and in May it was moved to 2224 College St., where a cell phone repair shop and a barber shop previously were located. Construction began on the relocation project in January, and the store re-opened in May with eight employees.
“It’s been hectic, but business is good,” JoDee Neptune said. “It’s much nicer, brighter. I love it.”
Though JoDee Neptune was sad to give up the cityscape painted on the wall at the old location, she decided to add local artwork to dress up the new walls. A collage of prints now decorate the interior, including historic photos from local photographers Dick Cole, owner of Cole Photography, and Wayne Magee, who was the contractor on the renovation project.
A white space is left for local artists to display their work for three to four months.
“I like it. The photos really add a lot,” JoDee Neptune said.
Prior to owning Sub City, JoDee Neptune worked at Sears, where she retired. But she didn’t stop there; owning Sub City has been a full-time job.
“It’s keeping me young,” she said, also noting she plans to pass the business on to her son, Chris Marchese, as well as granddaughter Alex Schutte, who is manager of the College Hill location, and Marchese’s son Eli Marchese.
“We’re a family of sub owners,” she said proudly.
And the sub-owning family plans to keep its roots firmly on the Hill.
“I like the people up here, they’re great. We have a really good College Hill Partnership Association ... and I just love the college kids, and they’re great workers. I feel like I’m they’re mom.”