Sub Station’s 47th Birthday celebrates another year of community and food

Martin Lopez/HIGHLANDER

“The Sub Station is as much a UCR landmark as the carillon Bell Tower, the Barn, and Scotty the Bear,” former Chancellor Tim White wrote in a 2012 letter congratulating the Sub Station and owner Richard Munio for their 40th anniversary celebration. “It’s one of those unifying memories that connects UCR graduates with alumni of ages.”

Seven years later, the Sub Station celebrated their 47th Birthday on Saturday, Feb. 16 with live music and five-cent cokes all-day. The all-day event featured live music from Delfino^2, an alternative band made up of UCR students including Cris Duran who has worked at the Sub Station for a year.  

The first time that Duran saw the Sub Station, he made up his mind to work there due to the vintage atmosphere of the place. From that moment on, he excitedly told his coworkers about his band around the same time as Munio began preparations for the celebration and brought up the idea to perform to the band. “It’s a really nice place to play at. It’s a good atmosphere here,” said Duran.

Performing at the Sub Station marks the band’s second performance since they formed four months ago. Their sound could be heard from across the street attracting people to stop by.

Two of the people who were enticed by the sound were roommates Adrian Cruz, fourth-year economics major, and Christian Galana, fourth-year art history major, who have been going to the Sub Station ever since they moved into Bannockburn three years ago. The morning of the 47th celebration they could hear the music of the band performing at the event which encouraged them to check the celebration.

Throughout the event, Munio greeted people stopping by, which included a variety of students, alumni and community members. He remembered some of them from when they were students at UCR years ago and had now brought their families to the place. “We are family,” Munio explained as he greeted some of his older customers from years back.

Among those people are Judy and Russ Lewis, who are from the Woodcrest area and come to the Sub Station two or three times a month. Russ used to work at UCR thirty years ago and within that time he found out about the “local-owned Sub Station” as he would hear it be described. He has come back ever since.

“I like the nostalgia that its been here for so long,” Judy commented. “I love the pictures they have of all the events they have. We didn’t even know it was the anniversary. We just came here because we love the Sub Station.”

Decorating the walls of the restaurant are pictures from past events at the sandwich shop, some going as far back as 1972 when the Sub Station was built. Munio knows all the people in each photo by name. He points out to his former employee Andrew “Andy” Leeka, who, decades after the picture was taken, is now president of Good Samaritan Hospital in downtown Los Angeles. Leeka still calls Munio to thank him for the job and even still calls him “boss.” Often when alumni would come by to visit, they would tell Munio, “I’m so glad you’re here, and I’m glad you didn’t turn this over to somebody else.”

Munio, originally from New Jersey, graduated from CSU Chico and served 12 months in Vietnam before opening Sub Station alongside his college roommate. The vintage element of the Sub Station is not just its furniture, like the tables that were built by Munio and his family, but by the people that stop by to eat and who work at the restaurant. All day long, the restaurant was packed with people stopping by to celebrate alongside each other another year of community and food.

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