Starship is boldly going beyond what most restaurants would do for a community by donating 20 percent of its sales on Wednesdays in October to Garfield School. The fundraiser starts today and ends Nov. 3. Garfield supporters can simply mention the school’s name to the cashier and a percentage will be placed in an account. At the end of November, the enterprising restaurant, famous for its subs and soup, will cut a check to Garfield, an elementary school at 543 Hannah Ave.
Starship owner Paul McKenna came up with the promotion as a way to help District 91 students and increase traffic to his eatery. He calls it “guerilla marketing.” Paul acknowledged that the economy has been tough and customers who used to order religiously are now on a tight budget. He doesn’t like taking large bites out of their pocketbooks. So, Paul started Starship’s Bailout Program offering “Cheap-But-Good” sandwiches and a drink for $4.50.
A Starship sub only cost $1.30 when it opened its doors on Nov. 4, 1977. During those first frigid months, Paul and his partners figured they couldn’t make it on cold sandwiches alone. So, he and his mad scientist chefs began concocting a dizzying array of soups. They now have 120 different soup recipes, 20 of which are original. Their Resurrection Chicken Soup, for example, lives up to its name if you’re suffering from a head cold. It contains medicinal quantities of garlic and hot peppers, and Paul said there should be an Rx on the label.
Many of Starship’s soups are so popular; Paul says it’s hard to keep them stocked in the freezer. However, not all of the experiments were successful: “Bratwurst & Banana” being a case in point. Nonetheless, these friendly “soup Nazis” serve five homemade soups daily.
Over the years, Starship has become a “destination sandwich shop” decked out in a Star Wars and Star Trek theme. Customers who have moved far away from Forest Park will travel light years for their favorite sub. The restaurant has also expanded into catering in a big way. Starship may be known for its modest fare, but the catering menu contains high-end items such as beef wellington, Cajun shrimp and salmon filets.
I’m having Starship cater an event, myself, though I’m sticking to subs. I’m making a presentation at a law firm, as my own method of guerilla marketing. If the PowerPoint doesn’t draw lawyers, the aroma of sandwiches will. I’ve scheduled it for a Wednesday in October so that 20 percent will go to Garfield.
Paul’s not playing favorites when it comes to supporting schools. He’s planning to pick a new school every month. Forest Park schools can contact Starship if they’re interested in participating. Until then, trek on over to 7618 W. Madison, or have Starship “beam” food right to your home or office. They offer free delivery at warp speed, as long as you live in this quadrant.
John Rice is a columnist/private detective, who has seen his business and family thrive in Forest Park. He thoroughly enjoys life in the village and still gets a thrill smelling Red Hots, watching softball and strolling through cemeteries.