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At 20, he's not the help - he's the owner

Published February 15, 2007

Calder Simmons cleans the glass of the deli counter at his Subway restaurant in Spring Hill. The store will have its grand opening Friday and Saturday.
[Times photo: Edmund D. Fountain]

SPRING HILL - He went to Suncoast Elementary School, Powell Middle School and Springstead High School, and he has taken classes at Pasco-Hernando Community College. He went last year to the Greater Hernando County Chamber of Commerce's annual 10-week Entrepreneurial Academy. Now he runs his own Subway sandwich shop franchise.

Calder Simmons just turned 20.

Simmons, born Jan. 21, 1987, SHS Class of 2005, has had his Subway open since December in Seven Hills Plaza at Mariner Boulevard and Spring Hill Drive, but his grand opening is Friday and Saturday. There will be coupons, special meal deals and even a mascot shaped like a sub.

"Everything's going good so far," he said Wednesday morning at the store. "Haven't had any major problems."

The lunch rush had the local kid with the smile on his face and the Subway visor on his head slinging lettuce and tomato and mustard and mayo and making Subway stalwarts like the cold cut combo, the Italian B.M.T. and sweet onion chicken teriyaki.

"He's always been a determined and independent spirit," said his father, Scott Simmons, the pastor at DaySpring Presbyterian Church on Mariner. "Ever since he was little."

Calder Simmons did the kind of stuff most any kid does growing up here in the sprawling development in southwest Hernando County. He went bowling at Spring Hill Lanes, went to movies at the Zota Beacon Theatres, went to friends' homes to play video games and to the school for football games on Friday nights. But he's always done one decidedly un-normal thing for someone his age: He takes impeccable care of his cash.

He asked one year for a safe for Christmas. His grandparents got it for him. He still has the gray metal box in his room.

He paid almost $12,000, in cash, when he was just 17, for the dark green Chevy Impala he wanted.

He took money he got from his family for his high school graduation and put it in an IRA account.

"That's just who he is," Scott Simmons said. "He's in for the long haul in business for himself."

He worked for a while when he was 16 at the Steak * Shake on U.S. 19.

He worked for a while when he was 17 at the Burger King on Mariner.

He worked for a while when he was 18 at the Jericho Road Ministries thrift store on State Road 50.

Calder Simmons didn't know exactly what he wanted to be. But he did know he didn't want to work for anybody else.

"I jumped around week to week," he said. "At one point I thought it would be cool to own a go-cart place. I thought about going to school for working on NASCARs."

But he took business classes at PHCC in the spring 2006 semester, and last fall, too, and he'll probably take more this summer, he said. He's thinking about eventually applying to the Center for Entrepreneurship at the University of South Florida.

He attended the chamber's series of three-hour evening classes last year from January to March.

"They get the leaders of Hernando County as their mentors," chamber executive director Pat Crowley said. "All of our presenters are business leaders in the county who teach them the ins and outs of opening a business."

Simmons bought the franchise with help from loans from his parents and his grandparents and his uncle.

He trained for two weeks last October in Milford, Conn., at Subway's corporate headquarters.

And now he gets to the store every day at 7 a.m. and bakes bread and then makes sandwiches, usually leaves around 5 or 6 p.m. and then goes home and does paperwork and pays bills and checks on food inventory. He has seven or eight employees.

This weekend, the special is buy one 6-inch sub, plus a medium drink, get another 6-inch sub free. That runs both days from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.

And then there's the mascot.

"It just looks like a giant sub with arms and legs," Simmons said.

The person inside it will stand on the busy corner of Mariner and Spring Hill and try to get people to come on over to the Subway in the strip center. Will he be that person?

"No," he said. "I'm going to find somebody else to wear it."

He is, after all, the boss.

"One of the perks," Simmons said.

Michael Kruse can be reached at or 352 848-1434.

[Last modified February 14, 2007, 20:36:18]

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