On Jan. 20, 2003, Mike and Karen Barkstrom opened Quiznos in Harbor Place in Aberdeen because they thought it would be fun. On April 25, 2014, they will close the sub sandwich and salad shop because Mike says it is time to retire.
“It hasn’t been an easy decision — deciding to close. The amazing staff we have here are like members of our family.
We worry about them and pray they are able to find a new job quickly,” said Karen, who will continue as an editorial assistant in the newsroom at The Daily World, where she also works.
The couple is hoping to sell the business.
Her husband tears up when he talks about the staff. “We have been able to afford numerous people an opportunity to turn their lives around,” he said Wednesday. “Next to raising my children, that’s the greatest accomplishment of my life,” said the former logging engineer who served as a medic with the rank of sergeant in the U.S. Army’s Special Forces.
Karen will miss going to Quiznos at lunch time for a two or three hour shift. “And then there’s the guests who have been visiting Quiznos for more than 11 years —- many of them we see weekly and have gotten to know quite well. Mike is really great at remembering names and greets most people by their first names when they walk in the door. I, on the other hand, have a terrible memory when it comes to names but I often remember what their favorite sandwich or salad is,” she said.
He talked about “How great it is to do business here on the Harbor where shaking hands is as good as a contract.”
The couple met as sophomores in high school in Kelso and married on Jan. 23, 1971, when he returned from Vietnam and Cambodia. They moved to the Harbor in July of 1985, raised three children here and now have five grandchildren.
Plans post Quiznos include volunteering and working around the house. “Unfortunately, the ‘honey, do’ list is growing by leaps and bounds and you can put that in there in bold italics,” he jokes.
And then there is joy of being a Husky in a “pride” of Cougars. Mike graduated from the University of Washington, the rest of his family from Washington State University. Even his grandchildren can sing the Cougar fight song. “It’s a great rivalry, we love it,” he said.
At Quiznos Wednesday, Barkstrom was intercepted by a customer. “You can’t retire,” she said. The Barkstroms are seeking a buyer of the business. “I will be an aggressive seller,” he said. For more information, call (360) 537-0101.
Erin Hart, 360-537-3932, firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter: @DW_Erin