Welcome to Firehouse! That is what you will hear any time you open the door to a Firehouse Subs restaurant. At a time when I feel that customer service is at an all time low, that is NOT the case at Firehouse. Firehouse wants to do everything they can to keep their customers happy, which starts with welcoming everyone as they walk in the door. After all, a happy customer is a repeat customer, and Firehouse wants you to return.
I had the pleasure of being welcomed to Firehouse Subs last week by the founders themselves. Brothers Chris and Robin Sorensen, who opened the first Firehouse Subs in Jacksonville, FL in 1994, hosted a small meet and greet for local media. I was so excited to meet the firefighting brothers and learn more about one of my favorite restaurants.
Here I am with Chris Sorensen (far left), Robin Sorensen (far right) and Erika from My Sentiment Exactlee. Keep in mind that this picture was taken after I worked all day and then stuffed myself with delicious subs! ;-)
Just in case you have never been to a Firehouse Subs restaurant, let me tell you a little bit about my favorite subs. These mouthwatering subs contain oversized portions of only the finest meats and cheeses, which are sliced daily. The meat and cheese are steamed together, which gives the subs a delicious, rich flavor, and then packed into a white or wheat sub roll. Most subs are served “fully involved” with mayo, mustard, lettuce, tomato and onion, and they are all served with a dill pickle spear. These are THE BEST subs I have ever tasted. I’m not just saying that for the purpose of this post, either. My husband and I have been regulars at our local Firehouse Subs now for years.
We were able to try four different subs during this great event. We tried Hook & Ladder, Smokehouse Beef & Cheddar Brisket, New York Steamer and Italian. While we were eating, Chris and Robin talked to us about each sandwich, and about the restaurant in general. Robin and Chris have tasted everything, and nothing goes on the menu without their approval. They work closely with their suppliers to ensure the freshest, best-tasting bread, and the crunchiest pickles.
Even though the Hook & Ladder is the #1 selling sub, Robin’s favorite is the New York Steamer. I have picked up the steamer on several occasions for my boss when I run out for lunch, but have never tried it myself, so I was glad we were able to try this one. Yum! I also became a huge fan of the Beef & Cheddar Brisket, and it may have knocked my #1 favorite Italian out of the spot it has had for so long. I am such a creature of habit that I get the same sub every time I go to Firehouse, but these other subs were so good that I might have to switch up my order each time I go.
One question I had for Robin and Chris was regarding a menu for the more health-conscious consumers, which doesn’t exist at Firehouse Subs. Their answer was “we tried it, and no one wanted it.” I have to admit that when I go to Firehouse, I go for the taste. According to Robin and Chris, so do the majority of their customers. A New York Steamer just isn’t going to be the same without the mayo and cheese. I certainly won’t argue with that. Of course there are ways to make a healthy meal at Firehouse, like getting the meat on a bed of lettuce, or ordering your sandwich on wheat bread with no mayo or cheese, but you won't see this girl ordering that way!
From the initial idea to opening the first restaurant, the brothers didn’t really know what they were doing. At first they were just kind of “daydreaming” after visiting various sub shops and knowing they could do it better, and one day, it all just came together. They used loans from friends and family to get started, and I’m pretty sure Chris said he contributed $2. (This was in jest, of course.) They now have almost 500 stores in the United States and Puerto Rico, and are still growing. To open a new franchise, they make sure they have the right franchisee, at the right time, and in the right location. That is their key to success.
Firehouse Subs is not only proud of their delicious subs, but also of the Firehouse Subs Public Safety Foundation. The Foundation was launched in 2005 and is dedicated to improving the life-saving capabilities of emergency services. Firehouse Subs donates life-saving equipment, educates the public, and even provides scholarships for individuals pursuing a career in public safety. There are two ways to make donations to this great foundation when you visit a Firehouse Subs restaurant – by leaving your change in canisters on the counters, or buy purchasing a pickle bucket. A pickle bucket? Yes, many years ago a franchise owner came up with the concept of selling the five-gallon pickle buckets to benefit the foundation (and cut down on waste), and you can purchase them for $2.
I could go on and on about this great restaurant and all of the fun business facts I learned while dining with Robin and Chris, but I will wrap this post up. I just have to tell you about one more really cool thing you will find at Firehouse Subs…
The Coca-Cola Freestyle Fountain! This was my first experience with this awesome soda fountain, where you can make over 120 combinations of your favorite sodas. You can create drinks like Orange Sprite, Raspberry Coke, and my favorite, Cherry Vanilla Dr. Pepper. The possibilities are endless, really!
I would like to thank Robin Sorenson, Chris Sorenson, and Don Fox (CEO, Firehouse Subs) for the very informative and delicious dinner. I learned a lot, and I look forward to seeing what Firehouse comes up with next!
~*~$20 Firehouse Subs Gift Card~*~
a Rafflecopter giveaway
Disclosure: All opinions are my own. I received samples of subs and sodas at no cost, along with a promotional item, when I attended dinner with the Founders. A big Thank You to Firehouse Subs for providing the giveaway prizes!