Americana: Ham, Swiss, Hold the Rent

Albany is peppered with nine Big Dom's submarine shops. And there is a real-life Big Dom behind the sandwich empire—Dominic Basile, who is big (6 ft. and more than 300 lbs.) and for whom business lately has not been great. Says Basile: "We've had a bad winter."

Not long ago, a bad spring seemed in the offing too. The landlord of one shop wanted to raise Basile's rent from $300 a month to about $350. Basile is a businessman; Landlord Richard Gerrity is a businessman; businessmen compromise. Says Gerrity: "Creativity is important." Thus he gave his negotiator a single, unorthodox instruction: "Get...

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