A phrase that has been appearing in my reviews of late is that a restaurant has not only “survived” in these “Interesting Times,” but also “thrived.”

My dining partner and I recently had a chance to dine at the Clinchfield Sub Station, a sandwich shop in Erwin that could be the “picture-in-the-dictionary” definition of not only surviving, but thriving.

First impressions

Clinchfield Sub Station is an efficient little sandwich shop that is tucked away in Suite 1 of 105 Rock Creek Road.

Though the shop originally occupied both Suites 1 and 2, the times being what they were caused Clinchfield Sub Station to re-size its operation into more compact and efficient quarters.

The dining area now accommodates 16 patrons in a space you could cross in five paces. The (COVID-shielded) cashier and carry-out station is straight ahead as you walk through Clinchfield’s front door. Their menu, including daily specials, is posted on a nearby chalkboard.

Half steak & bacon sub sandwich with bacon and cheese waffle fries

Lacey was the friendly young lady at the cashier/carry-out station who greeted my dining partner and I, before assisting us in our choices for supper. After studying the menu for a moment or two, I decided that a half-sized steak & bacon sub sandwich was my choice ($6.25) and added a side order of Clinchfield’s bacon and cheese-topped waffle fries ($2.49).

Working the grill and ovens during our mealtime was Robert, who took one look at the ticket for my supper order that Lacey had given him, sighed and said:

“You know I can’t read your writing.”

This got my attention, resulting in a brief clarification session with Robert on the finer points of my half steak & bacon sub sandwich with cheese and bacon waffle fries. My clarification must have worked, because my steak & bacon sub sandwich was delicious in every respect, the steak and the bacon forming a neat duet of flavors with the lettuce, pickles, mayonnaise and the toasted, yet chewy hoagie bun. My bacon and cheese waffle fries appeared to be constructed from waffle-cut potatoes, crunchy and smoky bacon bits and an extra-generous portion of some very yellow melted cheese sauce. As a whole, I was very pleased with my half steak & bacon sub sandwich and my bacon with cheese waffle fries.

Daily special: cheeseburger and fries with drink

My dining partner spotted Clinchfield Sub Station’s daily special tacked to the menu board, advertising a cheeseburger with waffle fries and a fountain drink for just $6.99. My dining partner had Robert grill her cheeseburger medium and no grill salt, please, and while you are at it, no salt on the waffle fries, either.

Robert handled my dining partner’s requests with professional ease, taking a nearly two-inch thick hamburger patty and grilling it just so, then properly adding the correct quantity of lettuce, sliced tomato, pickles, onions and just a smidge of mayonnaise to hold it all together. I was able to sneak a couple of my dining partner’s waffle fries off her plate, the better to compare them with my bacon and cheese version. Clinchfield Sub Station’s waffle fries are great just by themselves, even with no salt added, which pleased my dining partner no end.

The bottom line

Clinchfield Sub Station is a very well-run sandwich shop. Lacey and Robert work well together, some mild order deciphering issues notwithstanding. Robert does a great job on the grill, seeing to the particular requests you may make on your order, and completing them all in a timely and friendly manner. Lacey is a definite asset to Clinchfield Sub Station; her good-natured banter with the customers and Robert belies her ability and diligence in making sure your sub sandwich order is done the way you want it. The menu is varied and interesting enough to tempt even the most finicky tummy, with daily specials available on a regular basis.

Clinchfield Sub Station is a fine asset for the folks who live in Erwin and Unicoi County, and is definitely worth the drive as a destination from the rest of the Tri-Cities.

Why not drive on over and check ’em out?

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