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The SCENE Magazine

Antonini’s Subs & Steaks Opens Third Location in Kemah

May 22, 2018 09:53PM
There’s a new sub shop in town – new to Kemah, that is. Family-owned and operated, Antonini’s Subs and Steaks has actually been in business for more than 33 years. In 1984, Mike Antonini (Sr.) opened his first sub shop, which was originally located in Nassau Bay and relocated in 1991 to its current location in Webster (17314 Hwy. 3 in the medical center area) offering East Coast-style subs for more than 17 years and counting. The second location in Texas City (3509 Palmer Hwy. in the Kroger shopping center) was opened in 2012 and quickly became a local favorite, gaining loyal customers who can’t get enough of Mike’s special Cheese Steaks. With the success of two locations, the natural progression of expansion has brought the family-owned chain to Kemah’s Lighthouse District (602 6th Street).

Mike Antonini grew up on the East Coast where the quest for a perfect cheese steak is a normal part of everyday life. He went to college at St. Edwards University in Austin in the ’70s where he met his, now wife, Teresa. After graduating, the couple moved back to the East Coast so Mike could carry on the family’s mushroom farming business. As the big corporate farms started taking over, family-owned farms like the Antoninis’ found it difficult to survive and compete with the huge conglomerates that were squeezing the “little guys out.” While Mike struggled with the farming business, his college buddies were thriving back in Austin, founding the Thundercloud Subs chain that has been an Austin mainstay and local favorite ever since.

Mike even gave his buddies advice on how to make East-Coat inspired sandwiches. Having grown up in Houston, Teresa was missing her friends and family in the Lone Star State, so they took a leap of faith and moved to the suburbs of Houston to open their own deli-style restaurant. 

Mike’s Number 1 goal has always been to make the best sandwiches possible. The bread is baked fresh daily, the meats are all hand-cut in-house and only the freshest ingredients are used in order to achieve that goal. Mike’s renowned Cheese Steak has put an end to the quest, having accomplished what he (and most of Antonini’s loyal customers) believes to be perfection.

Although Mike Antonini was the founding force behind the success of this family-owned business, his son Michael has been influential with its expansion. Michael has helped take what his father created to the next level, using social media and his expansive knowledge of the restaurant business, having worked in the industry his whole life, or as Michael tells it, “Been working the business since I could barely see over the counter at my dad’s shop.” 

Michael operates the Kemah location with a very hands-on approach and is often found in the kitchen making the subs himself, ensuring they maintain the quality their fans have come to expect. He honors his father’s vision and shares his passion for perfection as well. Michael takes pride in the quality of ingredients they use for every sandwich and the fact that they slice the meats themselves. 

Antonini’s best-selling sandwich has always been the Cheese Steak (made with 100% USDA Certified Top Round Sirloin, hand-cut in house, choice of grilled onions, cheese, ketchup, mayo, and Antonini’s own blend of peppers), but running a close second is the Italian sub (made with Genoa salami, Capricola ham, cooked ham, peppered ham, choice of lettuce, tomato, onion, pickles, Antonini’s special blend of peppers, provolone cheese and Italian seasoning). Any sub can be turned into a salad or wrap for a little lighter lunch or for those folks with enough will-power to cut down on carbs.  

The beer and liquor license is in its final stages of completion to meet the demand of the customer base found on Kemah’s 6th Street (not to be confused with the legendary street in Austin), and keeping in step with the party atmosphere the Lighthouse District is known for. Until then, however, customers can enjoy the non-alcoholic beverages they have to offer. Stubborn Soda is a new “indie” type of brand that makes handcrafted sodas with unexpected flavor combinations like Black Cherry with Tarragon, Lemon Berry Acaî, Agave Vanilla Cream Soda and Orange Hibiscus. Very selective about who they let carry their products, Stubborn Soda is a synergistic partner for Antonini’s and their mantra aligns perfectly with the sub shop’s philosophy. Putting a positive spin on the word “stubborn”, the hip soda company explains why being stubborn can be a good thing, “To truly create something great, you’ve got to do it the ‘stubborn’ way. That means having a distinct point of view, never giving up and having unwavering determination to make something worthwhile… never compromising and using only quality ingredients and flavors.”

Nestled right next door and across the street from some Kemah’s current late night hot spots, Antonini’s wall of windows lends itself to unintended entertainment. With the counter-style seating facing the street, guests can have a front row seat to the passersby along the always-busy 6th Street, and do some people watching while eating their meal. (Sort of like reality TV without the TV – because real reality can be very entertaining.) So, stop by and check out the new place, order a delicious sub, pop the top on a Stubborn Soda and be sure to tell them the SCENE sent you!

By Shawn Domingues