I was a resident of Lawrence, Kansas from 1983 to 1989. During most of this period, I was a student at the University of Kansas. This look back is biased a little bit towards this era. Even though I have lived in the area since the early 2000s, I don’t think I’ve dined at any Lawrence restaurants since then. I need to change that!
Yello Sub (original location)
Most of the restaurants profiled in this series have been closed for five years or longer. This week, we look at the closed original location of a concept that has turned into the Midwest chain, Planet Sub. Yello Sub was the original local chain that started in Lawrence, Kansas in 1979 and turned into a thriving sandwich shop that I frequented (almost weekly) when I was a student at the University of Kansas in the 1980s. A Yello Sub location is still open on 23rd Street, but the original location at 12th and Oread has been closed for years. The building housing the campus location was demolished for the construction of an eyesore of a hotel.
The current Planet Sub chain has a menu which mostly replicates the menu you could find at Yello Sub in the 1980s. It even arranges most of them under “Originals.” The menu has been updated over the years and expanded. Planet Sub’s style is the baked sub. All of the subs are designed to be baked, which is a different sub sandwich experience than traditional sub shops. The chain shops kind of have the vibe of the original Yello Sub locations, but they are more chain-like and streamlined for a their locations.
The original Yello Sub at the 12 and Oread location inhabited the bottom floor of a big house. In the mid-80s, the Glass Onion coffee house opened upstairs. Yello Sub was next door to a small Kinko’s copy shop and the popular campus drinking hole, The Crossing. As a student, I spent lots of time at The Crossing, socializing and hearing bands. The Yello Sub locations became a mainstay of my student diet. I probably ate at one of the two locations weekly. There were more than a few nights where I’d be driving up and down 23rd Street with a friend, discussing where we’d get dinner, before settling on Yello Sub.
Looking at their menu, I’m reminded that Yello Sub has long been very vegetarian friendly. I remember preferring their vegetarian subs even before I became a vegetarian (in Lawrence) in 1989. Maybe their selection helped me understand that there could be restaurants with meatless options. One of their classic, 1980s-style, veggie subs is the Californian, which consists of cream cheese, guacamole, sprouts, tomatoes, and salsa. The Planet Sub is tangy olive spread, fresh red peppers, marinated artichoke hearts, provolone, cheddar and sun-dried tomatoes. My go-to has long been their Tempeh Reuben.
The original location of Yello Sub may be long gone, but their awesome sandwiches are still widely available at Planet Sub. Some of the classic vegetarian sandwiches that are still available include:
- Meatless Masterpiece – Cream Cheese, PepperJack, Swiss, Mushrooms, Green Peppers, Onions, Black Olives
- Californian – Cream Cheese, Guacamole, Lettuce, Tomatoes, Salsa
- Spicy Cheese – Cream Cheese, Pepper Jack, Provolone, Onions, Jalapeños, Lettuce, Tomatoes
- Tempeh BBQ – 5 Grain Tempeh, Provolone, Red Onions, Tomatoes, BBQ Sauce
Pro off menu hack: One of my favorite off menu sandwiches is their Tempeh Reueben. I’ve never had any issues ordering this and they have the ingredients on hand.