As owners of a smoke shop, Joshua Turner and Arnaldo Lopez struggled with figuring out what to add to their business to bring in more customers. While brainstorming different methods, Turner and Lopez stumbled upon the idea of adding a small food stand to the back of their smoke shop, Puff Pass Glass.
They decided on food because they both had former experience — Lopez’s uncle owns El Punto, a sandwich shop in Allentown, and Turner has worked at multiple cheesesteak shops. Turner believed their store was a prime location, so they opened Munchy Zone about three months ago at 11 E Fourth St.
Turner and Lopez never expected their business would take off as quickly as it did.
Their initial idea was to target the bar crowd with Munchy Zone. Originally, they were open until 3 a.m. so people could grab a bite to eat after the bars closed. However, they realized the bar crowd was not their typical customer base.
“We see a lot of business during the day, during the week,” Turner said. “A lot of local businesses will call us to order food because around here they’re used to pizza or Chinese food. That is basically all they can get delivered. Also, a lot of college kids come down.”
Now, the Munchy Zone is open from Monday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. because they were not extremely successful late at night.
When Muchy Zone first opened, they served larger sandwiches for $7. However, when they held a promotion, they came up with the idea to create a featured menu.
This month, they introduced a $4.20 Menu, from which customers can get any basic menu item for $4.20. They serve various hot pressed sandwiches, cheesesteaks, wraps, salads and loaded French fries. Turner and Lopez are looking to incorporate smoothies into their menu soon.
“It’s a build your own menu, similar to Chipotle or Adobo (Latin Kitchen),” Turner said.
The loaded fries are their most popular menu item, which Turner attributes to the fact that they are so inexpensive in comparison to other spots that offer similar items.
Clay Sutter, ’19, and Evan Held, ’19, discovered Munchy Zone when they were looking for a spot to eat after studying in the E.W. Fairchild-Martindale Library. When they saw that the store had a $4.20 menu, they decided to try it.
“We were surprised at how inexpensive it was,” Sutter said. “We were also surprised at how good the food was for such a low price.”
Sutter and Held each enjoyed their meals, however they agreed they wished there were tables to sit and eat at in the store. Held thinks Munchy Zone would be even more successful if customers could enjoy their meals there, instead of being forced to take their food to go.
“I think the addition of tables would be an asset to Muchy Zone, but I understand they just don’t have the space in the store,” Held said.
Turner said many of Munchy Zone’s customers, like Sutter and Held, try the food because they walk by the store and see the $4.20 menu.
The Munchy Zone also delivers, which Turner believes helps draw in customers and spread the word because not many sandwich places deliver in South Bethlehem. In addition to food, Turner and Lopez started selling paintings by local artists as another way to bring in customers.