Openings and Closings

Great American Hero Lives On; New Owners Plan to Expand

New owners have saved Great American Hero. It closed on Dec. 30 but will reopen on Jan. 10.
New owners have saved Great American Hero. It closed on Dec. 30 but will reopen on Jan. 10. Doyle Rader
Everybody needs a hero. When Dominick Oliverie decided to retire at the end of December after working tirelessly for 47 years, he thought it would be the end of his beloved sandwich shop, The Great American Hero.

Oliverie officially closed The Great American Hero’s doors Thursday, Dec. 30, but they will open again. A pair of investors are saving the iconic brand from permanent closure and will keep The Great American Hero going in 2022 and beyond.

Jacob Cox and Danny Wilson are the men responsible for the revival. They will reopen the colorful shop on Lemmon Avenue on Jan. 10. Oliverie said he couldn’t have picked a better duo to pick up where he is leaving off.

“They’re really nice people,” Oliverie says. “They’re into the business. They’re young like I was. I started when I was 27, but they remind me of me. They’re out there looking for a way to make a difference in the world.”
click to enlarge The Cuban sandwich from Great American Hero will live on. - NICK RALLO
The Cuban sandwich from Great American Hero will live on.
Nick Rallo
Cox and Wilson aren’t newcomers to the food and hospitality world. They have run several concepts in Deep Ellum, including Rocket Fizz Soda Pop Candy Shop, The Pharmacy, Select Start Arcade & Bar and Pop Culture DTX, among others.

Cox says that the idea to buy The Great American Hero brand came to him when he and Caroline Perini, who owns Easy Slider, had lunch there soon after Oliverie announced the closing. He returned to get a sandwich every day for 30 days, slowly building a relationship with Oliverie.

“Through the process and over the last few months, we came to an agreement to purchase the brand, inventory and everything — a trademark,” Cox says. “We closed on that, and now we are in current possession of that. The hope and goal is to grow the brand beyond what he built over the last 47 years.”

Not much will change when Cox and Wilson reopen Hero. All the sandwich options that delighted diners for decades will remain, but they are updating the point-of-sale system to get a better grasp of sales. Oliverie used a basic cash register and wrote his own checks up until his last day.

“There may be a few tweaks here and there, but for the most part we don't plan to change the menu at all,” Cox says. “That’s one of the things that’s been such an appeal to people — the vegetarian options, the hummus and all of those types of things that are kind of unique to that, opposed to a traditional sandwich shop.”

While The Great American Hero’s menu will stay the same, its location won’t. Cox and Wilson negotiated a three-month deal with the property owner, Leland Burk, to stay on Lemmon. After that, they’ll be month-to-month. They say that for a sandwich shop, the price is just too high to remain long-term.

“I think he would like to get a bank, but I don't know,” Oliverie says of Burk’s plans for the property. “Banks pay more money than anybody else per square foot.”

As such, Cox and Wilson are already looking to open other locations. They’re working on deals north off U.S. 75 and on Harry Hines Boulevard near UT Southwestern and Parkland Hospital. Their goal is to have three or four locations open in the next 12 to 18 months and eventually have Great American Hero be a 100% veteran-owned franchise business.

As Oliverie’s 47-year run comes to a close, a new chapter begins for The Great American Hero. Cox and Wilson marvel at everything that Oliverie accomplished in that time and look forward to making their own mark, rescuing one of Dallas’ most recognizable brands.

“We're grateful for the time and love that Dominick’s put into this thing and the opportunity that he's given us to grow a brand beyond what he's created,” Cox says. “We're just grateful that he gave us a shot at this thing, and we look forward to the future.”
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