Blimpie and Tim Hortons are making a big deal out of turning 50 by leveraging the golden anniversary into a yearlong opportunity to reintroduce their brands while showing off new features and growth markets.

Last Friday, Blimpie commemorated its 50th birthday by offering its signature Blimpie Best sub for 50 cents to the first 200 customers at each of its nearly 600 franchised units. Founder Tony Conza, who opened the first Blimpie in Hoboken, N.J., with two high school friends in 1964, was on hand at a Blimpie location in Jersey City, N.J., to unveil a 50-foot sub made as part of a charity fundraiser during the day.

Conza had filmed a news segment at that Jersey City Blimpie restaurant, which is only a block away from where he attended grammar school, he said, “which was a real walk down memory lane.”

“I don’t often think too much about the roots of the company,” Conza said, “so it’s been interesting for me the past few weeks, and I’m looking forward to what we’re doing all year.”

On its 50th birthday, Blimpie offered its Blimpie Best sub for 50 cents Blimpie’s initiatives for 2014 include the Golden Giveaway contest, in which every customer who orders a combo meal receives a scratch card to enter to win several prizes, like a vacation to Hawaii — the 50th state — or free tablet computers, free subs for a year or $50 Blimpie gift cards.

“We have high hopes for this year,” added Steve Evans, vice president of marketing for Blimpie, which is owned by Scottsdale, Ariz.-based Kahala Corp. “The goal is to reintroduce the brand, get more trial and awareness, and we think it gives us a great stepping stone to build on. These types of [anniversary] things only set you up for success on later promotions.”

Other major platforms for Blimpie this year include the eventual rollout of online ordering and a branded mobile app that complements its Blimpie Run game for smartphones and tablets. The chain’s third-quarter limited-time offer will pay tribute to Blimpie’s origins: the Hoboken Hero, which will be an Italian sub with capicola, salami and pepperoni.

“For us, it’s about staying as true as we can to our roots with the premium deli meats sliced fresh to order,” Evans said. “At the same time, it’s a changing marketplace. … Now we’re staying on trend and competitive by embracing the technology our customers are embracing, engaging with them in the ways they want. It’s important with a 50-year-old brand to make sure we’re evolving.”