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Taste of the Town: Red hot celebration

Bulldog's Red Hots, North Island Sandwich Shoppe still setting themselves apart from the rest

BATAVIA – Bulldog’s Red Hots owner Allen Soboj knows there are plenty of places in the area for people to grab a cold sandwich, burger or slice of pizza.

So what Soboj and his wife, Christina, try to do with Bulldog’s and their adjacent business, North Island Sandwich Shoppe, is to set themselves apart from the rest of the pack.

“We don’t try to compete with Subway,” Soboj said.

Soboj runs Bulldog’s, located at 32 N. Island Ave. in downtown Batavia, and his wife owns and operates North Island Sandwich Shoppe. Bulldog’s opened in 2009 and is celebrating its fifth anniversary this month. North Island Sandwich Shoppe opened in 2011.

One way North Island Sandwich Shoppe tries to set itself apart is through the meats on its deli sandwiches. It serves Boar’s Head luncheon meats.

Soboj said he first was introduced to Boar’s Head by a Bulldog’s employee before North Island Sandwich Shoppe opened. He was instantly sold.

“One bite was all it took,” he said. “I hate luncheon meat, but I will eat this stuff. It is all gluten free and is also approved by the American Heart Association.”

North Aurora resident Peter Scholten was at the North Island Sandwich Shoppe recently picking up a chicken salad sandwich for his wife, Judi.

“She is on a dairy-free, gluten-free diet,” Scholten said. “Most fast-food places are not providing gluten-free options.”

Scholten is a regular customer at Bulldog’s and North Island Sandwich Shoppe.

“They are not stingy on putting stuff in your sandwich,” he said. “They are reasonably priced.”

North Island Sandwich Shoppe also started serving pizza more than a year ago after a Pizza Hut restaurant closed a couple of doors down from the shop.

“We get a lot of compliments on our pizza,” Soboj said. “We are the only pizzeria that uses Grande cheese. It’s the best mozzarella cheese you can buy. It’s in a class all by itself.”

North Island Sandwich Shoppe also boasts a number of desserts made by Soboj’s wife, including marshmallow treats, lemon bars and cookies. Gluten-free cookies also are available.

Bulldog’s Red Hots menu also provides plenty of options, including homemade Italian beef, grilled chicken breast, hot dogs and burgers.

To celebrate its five-year anniversary, the restaurant will sell 99-cent hot dogs from Friday, Aug. 22, to Sunday, Aug. 24.

The name Bulldog’s comes from the mascot name for the Batavia High School athletic teams. The restaurant also is community-minded and supports local teams in various ways.

“We’re also at all the local festivals,” Soboj said. “You try to be as visible as humanly possible.”

While Bulldog’s and North Island Sandwich Shoppe continue to gain customers, Soboj admitted that it’s been a struggle.

“The first year was very challenging,” he said. “We didn’t know if we would make it the first year. For the first year, I didn’t take a paycheck.”

But that hard work has paid off.

“I still work 75 hours a week, but the store is finally on the map now,” Soboj said. “We are well known in Batavia.”

For information about Bulldog’s Red Hots and North Island Sandwich Shoppe, visit

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