The taste of Philly cheese steak and hoagies has come to town, thanks to DAM Sandwiches and Delightful Treats.
When owners Dave Bradford and Marie Watson — he’s from Philadelphia while she hails from South New Jersey — couldn’t find any local shops that made authentic cheese steak sandwiches, they decided to open their own placewith its catchy name.
They combined the initials of their first names, D and M creating DAM. “We hear from customers who saythey encourage people to try a DAM Sandwich,” laughed Bradford.
The 1,288-square-foot space at 1301 E. Avenue D previously housed Fong’s Seafood Market.
Besides cheese steak sandwiches, the menu offers pizza steak sandwiches, chicken bacon ranch and Aloha steak with ham and pineapple, plus tuna and cheese, meatball, a variety of hoagies, a Philly pretzel sandwich and more.
Some of the sides include mac and cheese bites, fried pickles, fried mushrooms and onion rings. They use Amoroso rolls, along with rolls baked by Bite the Bagel in Killeen.
The shop offers catering for parties and business events, and delivers throughout the area for free. Bradford said about 32 percent of their business comes from deliveries.
“There are certain ways we make sandwiches that other places here don’t, becausethe ingredients are shipped from Philadelphia, like Italian meats,” said Watson.
First-time customer and Philly native Kristin Byrd confirmed the taste was the real deal.
“We haven’t found anything comparable in town, and the rolls were on point,” Byrd said.
Her friend Rachel Hamilton heartily agreed. “Everything was perfect. We’ll definitely return.”
It took five weeks for the shop’s renovation work to be completed: painting the walls, adding a chair rail and installing kitchen equipment, along with buying new tables and chairs.
Bradford made the built-in cushioned seating that holds about 12 customers with more seating outside. Startup costs totaled almost $9,000.
The shop opened in October with only customer comments posted on social media for advertising. Word spread quickly.
“Over time, we’re gotten busier and busier,” said Diana Brumbelow, head cashier.
Watson praised the staff of 12 for their teamwork. “They are very good employees that we trained to work well together,” she said.
Bradford and Watson, Killeen residents, met in South Jersey while playing pool. Watson was a nurse and owned a cleaning business for 20 years. Bradford is a retired military veteran, as well as a master carpenter.
In 2012, they relocated to Central Texas to join Watson’s daughter, who was in the Army at Fort Hood, to help with the children when she deployed.
Their sandwich making journey began in 2015 by selling homemade Italian Ice from coolers at a farmer’s market.
After buying several small food trailers, they sold sandwiches at Fort Hood and at Harker Heights Moose Lodge 2179.
Then Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 3892 allowed the couple to rent its kitchen for making sandwiches.
Even though customers loved the food, they said they didn’t like bringing children to a bar to eat.
So Watson and Bradford started looking for their own place.
“We wanted to open in Killeen, but the rental prices were high. Then this opportunity became available,” said Watson.
The couple still operates at the VFW kitchen but will close it to open their new, larger shop in Killeen on North Fort Hood Street in early February.
The dynamic sandwich duo has future plans for a Temple or Salado location.
Watson and Bradford seldom slow down long enough to savor the taste of their success. The last six months have been a whirlwind of positive, life-changing events they attribute to hard-work and faith.
“People had belief in us, so that made us believe in ourselves,” said Watson.