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Metro, News

Couple turns Subway into family operation

Masnyks savor time running Subway franchise on Waterman street for six years

Senior Staff Writer
Thursday, October 31, 2019

Anne (left) and Mariusz (right) Masnyk run the Subway on Waterman Street. The couple enjoys working together in the shop, which serves much of the Brown community.

The Subway tucked on Waterman behind the Sciences Library is more than just one of the franchise’s many quick stops. It’s a local, family-run business and an opportunity for its owners, Anne and Mariusz Masnyk, to connect with each other.

Inside, their Subway is neat and by-the-books. Puffy chip bags sit regimented on the rack. Huge photos of tomatoes and bread hang on the walls. Beyond the stock decorations, little spots of personality dot the store. Behind the register, a laminated sign reading “Brown Wrestling” is stuck to the wall, autographs clustered around its edges.

The Masnyks have operated the Waterman Subway since Sept. 11, 2013, a chaotic day that Mariusz Masnyk can recall clearly. “Baptism by fire is the best. If you can get through the worst part of your life in something that you’re starting, you can do everything,” he said.

After the business settled down, the couple adjusted to a steady routine. Anne Masnyk oversees the finances and point-of-sale for the shop, and Mariusz Masnyk Masnyk takes care of operations: employees, stock and equipment maintenance. “What I like about this is I’m with family. It really means a lot,” Mariusz Masnyk said.

The Masnyks, who married in the summer of 1982, met when Mariusz Masnyk, the son of two Polish immigrants, was a sophomore at Providence College, and Anne Masnyk was attending Bay Path College. At the time, Mariusz Masnyk held three jobs, Anne Masnyk two. Prior to opening the Subway, Mariusz Masnyk spent 25 years working in insurance before traveling around the country as the risk claims manager for CVS. Anne Masnyk worked retail at big box stores like Burlington Coat Factory and Bradley. Both managed dozens of employees beneath them, but they rarely spent time together.

“I had 35 years in corporate America, I never saw my wife,” Mariusz Masnyk said. “We tried to reinvent ourselves and that’s what we did, from corporate America,” Mariusz Masnyk added.

Mariusz Masnyk left CVS in 2012 and started looking into opening a business. Intent on choosing a franchise that would allow him more independence than his previous career, Mariusz Masnyk chose Subway and waited for a suitable location to go on the market. After six months, the Masnyks found one, and they purchased the current location on Waterman.

Since acquiring the Subway, the couple said they can enjoy more time with each other — whether in the car, or working together, or while walking their two old English Sheepdogs.

The shop does not just employ the couple. Aside from the Masnyks, the shop mostly employs part-time workers, usually teenagers.

“Whatever you learn here and how you perform in your job is going to reflect in your future,” Anne Masnyk said. The couple values respect — for “yourself, your employer and your family,” according to Mariusz Masnyk.

Immediately after opening the store, Mariusz Masnyk said he also remembers getting busy with feeding the University’s athletic teams. The Masnyks catered for teams, including football, soccer, gymnastics and tennis. Other customers include students coming in from the nearby library.

The shop serves much of the University community, Mariusz Masnyk said. “Brown is our world. Obviously we have all the employees of Brown, all the professional people, the students,” he added.

Paxton Alexander ’22 considers himself a Subway regular.“The workers there are super nice. They know who I am because I always go,” Alexander said. “I like the aroma. It always smells like fresh bread. … They know my sandwich order.”

“What do you want to do when you’re stressed out? I want to do the same thing when I’m stressed. I want to eat,” Mariusz Masnyk said, referencing customers from the library.

Donna Personeus, executive director of the Thayer Street District Management Authority, described Mariusz Masnyk and Anne Masnyk as strong members of the Thayer Street community.

She emphasized the importance of supporting family-owned businesses: “When you spend a dollar, it’s helping them pay their mortgage, helping them (spend) money back into the community.”

Mariusz Masnyk and Anne Masnyk enjoy running a business together and have recently bought another store in Taunton, Mass. that they also manage.

“It makes it work. Love is an important thing,” Mariusz Masnyk said. “Granted, we can get into arguments. But it really works. There’s more trust. And trust is key.”

“You always have (each other’s) backs,” Anne Masnyk said. “(I) never have to worry that he’s not going to be there.”

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