517 Subs, Signal Mountain TN

One day at the beginning of the summer, we were coming home from the Pumpkin Patch playground and I spotted a little restaurant. I said that the next time we came up to Signal Mountain to play, we should get a picnic lunch from a cute sub place.

Apparently, one of the ways that locals can spot newcomers like us is the way we misuse the term “Signal Mountain.” There’s this great big ridge high above Shuford’s Smokehouse and Merv’s, and you take Signal Mountain Road to get up there, but the giant hunk of rock is not a mountain named Signal. It’s not correct to say, as we have been doing, “let’s go hike on Signal Mountain.” No, that’s the southern tip of Walden Ridge, and Signal Mountain is one of the towns on top of it. Got it! Another town, Walden, is right next to Signal Mountain, and about 10,000 people live between them.

Pumpkin Patch is our favorite playground in the metro area, and our son enjoys it so much that it’s worth the half-hour drive to come up here and play. It’s not like any playground we’ve ever seen before, and probably the closest thing in concept we’ve visited is the great Rainbow Lake Playground in Memphis. It’s deliberately non-traditional, with lots of play structures that go against playground design norms and demand that children use their imagination in new ways. It sprawls over a much larger footprint than most playgrounds and I guarantee your under-tens will have a blast here.

One day in June, we started the morning with a three mile hike around the totally different Rainbow Lake in our part of the state. This is part of the Cumberland Trail and it’s incredibly fun. We’re still baby hikers, and I’m a pretty overweight one, so this left us exhausted and very sweaty and ready for lunch.

(In fact, by the time this story goes up in August, we’ll have been indoors most recent Saturdays because as badly as I want to hike, it’s far too blasted hot for me.)

We got to 517 Subs just as they opened and enjoyed looking at all the classic board games from the sixties and seventies framed on the walls. It always makes me happy to see such cute design in restaurants. This place has been here since 2003 and we learned a delightful little story about it. The owners had originally hoped to open a Subway franchise up here, but were turned down. There’s a Subway restaurant at the base of the ridge on Signal Mountain Road, and some high muckity-muck had concluded that a Subway here would cannibalize too many sales from the Subway below. So they went independent, getting their name from their telephone number. If you’d like to phone 517 Subs, just dial 517-SUBS!

The Vincent is really interesting! I’ve never had a sandwich with meatballs and salami before. I normally like to try the regular Italian the first time I visit a place, so Marie was nice enough to order one of those. This was a good little picnic.

In the weeks between our visit and this post going up, Mary from Chattavore also stopped by and enjoyed her meal. She says that 517 Subs and their fresh-baked bread reminds her of Blimpie, which she once enjoyed. Wow, I’d forgotten all about Blimpie. I bought October Project’s first album from the fellow working the register at the Blimpie on Broad Street in Athens.

When we left the restaurant to take our sandwiches to Pumpkin Patch, I started conspiring to come back this way again when it starts to cool down. We should come up here and go see Edwards Point as soon as it’s cool enough that I won’t be so miserable that I won’t enjoy the hike.

And as I was thinking about that, we passed a Subway on our left. Guess those muckity-mucks were wrong; the area’s big enough for more than one sandwich shop after all. But you all know to visit this one, right?

517 Subs
1238 Taft Hwy #184
Signal Mountain, TN 37377

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