“Gorgers” — the title conjures up people eating so much food that they will not have to eat again for some time. However, brothers Barton and Matthew Diamond, owners of the new Gorgers Subs restaurant one block west of the Ithaca Commons, hope their menu keeps customers coming back soon for more.
The restaurant opened on Aug. 23 at 116 W. State St. after the Prize Diner, which previously occupied the space, burned down in January 2011.
The brothers had been working since March to restore what was a “pretty bad interior,” according to Barton.
Matthew said the renovations included adding a bathroom for customers because the previous arrangement of the space required customers to walk through the kitchen to access the bathroom.
“It was a lot of work; basically, we had a blank slate to work with because the restaurant was only a sub floor and dry wall, which took a long time to renovate,” Matthew said.
Gorgers offers two eating challenges to those looking to test their taste buds and their stomachs.
To beat the “Inferno Challenge,” customers must finish the spicy Caribbean Fire sandwich and then go three minutes without drinking water. To complete the “Gorgers Challenge,” diners must eat an entire 26-inch piece of flatbread in one sitting.
Anyone who completes either challenge does not have to pay for the sub, receives a free T-shirt and gets his or her picture on Gorgers’ wall.
“We try to play on the ‘Gorgers’ name,” Barton said. “You get a ton of food for seven dollars.”
Gorgers’ menu includes more than 15 subs and flatbread sandwiches, as well as several salads, soups and sides. According to the brothers, some of the best sandwiches include the Chicken Margherita, the Coconut Shrimp and the Bahn Mi — a pulled pork and vegetable sandwich.
Jehiel Oliver grad, a self-described “foodie,” said that he went to Gorgers because he likes to try new types of food. Oliver described the food as “quick, convenient and tasty.”
The brothers make all of the restaurant’s bread and sauces from scratch. They live on an eight-acre plot in Greene, N.Y., where they grow their own sweet and hot peppers, basil, tomatoes and cucumbers. Matthew said that, in the future, he hopes to grow even more food for the restaurant.
Barton added that the bread is never more than a day old, “so everything is always fresh.”
Martha Haile, who has tried the Chicken Margarita and Caribbean Fire sandwiches, said that “the taste of the bread was really great and stood out.”
Barton is the only brother to have any prior experience in the restaurant business, having worked at a café while studying in Hawaii. Gorgers’ menu — which includes Chimichurri — was influenced by Barton’s time in Hawaii, he said.
The Cabernet Steak sandwich and the Chardonnay Bleu Cheese dressing are both made from Red Newt wines, which are made by the Diamonds’ cousin, Brandon Seager.
According to Matthew, the brothers plan to expand the menu by adding one or two seasonal items, such as Squash Pumpkin Ginger soup, while keeping the core menu.
According to Matthew, the biggest struggle has been trying to get customers to come from the Commons and Cornell’s campus. The restaurant has tried to combat this problem by staying open late on Fridays and Saturdays for bar crowds.
However, Matthew said that the restaurant has exceeded expectations so far, selling 30 to 50 subs per day.
Although the brothers’ say that their menu is global, their mission is not.
“We weren’t sure how much we’d sell right off the bat because we’re independently owned,” Matthew said. “Without a national presence, it is hard to initially generate a lot of attention.”