PrimoHoagies in Dover was the 71st to open in the Tri-State area.  It is now the sixth store running in Delaware.

At 10:30 a.m. Monday, the owners of the new PrimoHoagies off U.S. Route 13 thought it might be a slow day by the looks of things.

It figured, co-owner Keith Hunter said.

“We had like 25 to 30 people asking us each day if we were open the last few weeks,” Hunter said.

Then, just before 11 a.m., three customers came entered in rapid succession. Carl Brett of Dover had the honor of being the first customer of the Dover franchise.

Brett ordered a cheese sub – Primo sized. As for the side, he was trying to make up his mind between macaroni salad or potato salad.

“I saw the advertisement last week that it was opening,” he said. “When I drove by I saw it, too. Not everybody knows what a hoagie is. We call them subs down here. So, I figured I’d check them out.”

With that, the 71st PrimoHoagies in the Tri-State area was open for business. It is now the sixth store running in Delaware.

Hunter of Claymont and co-owners Dennis and Lori Vieira of Lewes have been preparing the new franchise for about two months.

Dennis Vieira, a former computer programmer, owns a water delivery company in Lewes while Hunter came from the pharmaceutical industry.

“We tasted the sandwiches and said, ‘Oh my God. These things are delicious,'” Dennis Vieira said. “We’ve been eating them for a few years. We said we should really open one of these here in Delaware. It was either here or the beach.”

So, they settled on 155 N. DuPont Highway in Dover, he said.

“We think we’ve got a good mix between the state buildings, the Air Force Base and the businesses around,” Vieira said. “We think we’re in a good, centralized location – close enough to [Dover International Speedway] for the races but far enough away where other people can get here on race weekends.”

They hired 18 mostly part-time workers to start the business, he said.

“The bread makes the sandwich, and this bread is the best,” Vieira said. “It’s a secret recipe that comes from a bakery in New Jersey just for Primo’s. We bake it fresh in the store everyday. And we have top-of-the-line lunchmeat from Thumann’s sliced real thin [upon each order] and good cheeses.”

PrimoHoagies Senior Field Manager Eric Bonner, based in Gloucester City, N.J., attended the Dover opening to help the new franchise get off the ground.

“Prior to opening, Keith and Dennis trained for two weeks in another store,” Bonner said. “Today and the all this week, we’ll help them train their employees.”

Presently, there are nine other franchises close to opening or in the works, he said.

In the early going, Dennis Vieira or Hunter will be at the store at all times, Vieira said. They’ll take turns working on the weekends.

In addition to serving the take out crowd for lunch and dinner, Primo’s is available for catering and corporate events.