Girish Mahajan (Editor)

Firehouse Subs

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Don M. Fox (2009–)

Privately held company


Vincent Burchianti

Firehouse Subs httpswwwfirehousesubscomimgfirehousesubsl

Submarine sandwiches, Hot subs

Jacksonville, Florida, United States

1994, Jacksonville, Florida, United States

Robin Sorensen, Chris Sorensen


Firehouse subs salutes firefighter emt kassi dercola

Firehouse Subs (Firehouse of America, LLC.), is a U.S.-based, fast casual restaurant chain founded in 1994 in Jacksonville, Florida by former firefighting brothers Robin and Chris Sorensen. Firehouse Subs is famous for serving medium and large specialty subs with premium meats and cheeses steamed hot with generous portions on a toasted sub roll, served “Fully Involved®” with fresh produce and condiments. The concept takes inspiration from the Sorensen family’s decades of combined fire and police service.


To date, Firehouse Subs has opened 1050 franchise restaurants across 44 states, Puerto Rico, Canada and Mexico.

In 2005, Chris and Robin Sorensen created the Firehouse Subs Public Safety Foundation® with the mission of providing funding, life-saving equipment and educational opportunities to first responders and public safety organizations. Since its inception, Firehouse Subs and its customers have donated more than $24 million in 46 states, Puerto Rico and in Canada through Firehouse Subs Public Safety Foundation of Canada.

Early History

In the early 1990s, brothers Chris and Robin Sorensen were following in the footsteps of their father, Captain Rob Sorensen, a 43-year veteran of the Jacksonville Fire & Rescue Department in Jacksonville, Florida. Both were looking to supplement their income, and after a few attempts at various business ventures, settled on opening a restaurant. Their concept, Firehouse Subs, would be based off the firefighting culture of public service and hearty food, while also honoring their family’s heritage in the firehouse.

Robin, who already had experience in the restaurant industry, along with Chris, began crafting what would become the original Firehouse Subs menu. To do so, Robin left the fire department. Chris would remain, spending his off days focused on the restaurant. During their research, they quickly realized there didn’t seem to be a sandwich shop focused on making hot subs. They continued to test recipes and cooking methods, until they came up with a cooking system that combined cold vegetables and condiments, a toasted sub roll, and meats and cheese that were steam-heated.

After years of preparation, they were able to pull together their money, along with loans from family, to finally get the concept off the ground. On October 10, 1994, the first Firehouse Subs restaurant opened in Jacksonville, Florida with less than $100 in the cash register. The restaurant became an instant success and by 2001, the company became debt free. Robin often jokes, “When we opened our doors on October 10, 1994 we weren’t certain we’d be open on October 11.”

Growth and Success

Firehouse Subs practices smart growth, based on finding the right person at the right time in the right location. Since commencement more than 22 years ago, Firehouse Subs has opened more than 1,050 restaurants across 44 states and internationally in Puerto Rico, Canada and Mexico. Current plans for expansion in 2017 are focused in the Northeast and West Coast U.S., along with continued international expansion into Canada and Mexico.


Firehouse Subs first attempted franchising in 1995. Soon after, the founders decided to pull back on the idea, eventually buying back those franchised locations in the coming years. Instead, they chose to focus on operating company-owned stores only, especially in the Jacksonville market putting franchising on the back burner.

In 1998, Firehouse Subs surpassed 10 restaurants, and later that year opened the first location outside of Florida.

By 2000 franchising became a topic of conversation once more. This time, the founders decided to take a different approach, using consultants to plan franchise growth. Due to the founders’ frugality and business operations, they were able to set up financing for potential franchisees.

The second wave of franchising began in 2001.

By 2002, Firehouse Subs was opening its 50th restaurant.

A year later in 2003, Firehouse Subs hit another milestone, opening the 100th restaurant.

As the 2000s continued, so did Firehouse Subs’ growth. By 2012 the company had opened its 500th restaurant, closing out the year with nearly 600 and in July 2016, Firehouse Subs opened its 1,000th restaurant.

International Expansion

Although international growth wasn’t necessarily in Chris and Robin Sorensen's plans, they were approached with an opportunity to expand in the U.S. Territory of Puerto Rico by a group operating other restaurants on the island, Caribbean Restaurants, LLC. The brand did so in 2011, and currently operates 12 restaurants.

In 2015 Firehouse Subs launched its official international push into Canada, opening the first restaurant in Oshawa, Ontario in October as a partnership with OnFire Restaurant Group. Currently the group operates five Canadian restaurants, with plans to open a total of 90 in Ontario alone.

In January 2017, Firehouse Subs continued the international expansion opening the first restaurant in Santa Fe, Mexico City, Mexico, again using an international franchise partner, Latin America Subs Mexico S de R.L. de C.V.

Restaurant Concept and Food

Chris and Robin Sorensen turned to the firehouse for inspiration when it came time to design their first restaurant. It featured donated firefighter gear and memorabilia, and other elements reminiscent of a fire department. Each restaurant features a custom mural, hand-drawn and painted at the company’s headquarters in Jacksonville, Florida. The murals reflect fire and police service unique to each restaurant’s community or town. None of the more than 1,000 murals painted are the same.

The menu, which features signature hot specialty subs, salads, and other seasonal items, takes inspiration from the firehouse with names like Hook & Ladder®, Engineer®, and Firehouse Hero®. The subs are prepared with generous portions of steam-heated meats and cheeses, piled on a toasted sub roll, and served “Fully Involved®” with fresh vegetables and condiments. Chris and Robin Sorensen remain in charge of the menu, as the company does not have an executive chef.

The number one selling sub remains the original Hook & Ladder®, served with smoked turkey breast, Virginia honey ham, and Monterey Jack cheese. Other favorites include the Firehouse Hero®, Engineer Sub®, Firehouse Meatball® and Smokehouse Beef & Cheddar Brisket™. Other seasonal items have appeared on the menu in limited or company-wide releases.

Unique to Firehouse Subs is Captain Sorensen’s® Datil Pepper Hot Sauce, named in honor of the founding brothers’ father, Rob Sorensen, a 43-year retired fire captain. The sauce has a spicy-sweet flavor from the datil pepper, a hot pepper similar to habaneros, but with a sweeter taste. Additionally, each restaurant offers an assortment of 50+ complimentary hot sauces.

Coca-Cola Freestyle

In 2012, Firehouse Subs became the first franchise chain to offer the touch-screen operated Coca-Cola Freestyle® Fountain in every restaurant and is the only brand on the planet to house a Freestyle Fountain in every restaurant location. The Freestyle offers 120+ sparkling and still beverage brands with 70+ regular and low-calorie options. Choices at Firehouse Subs restaurants include top selling non-carbonated fountain drinks Cherry Lime-Aid™, Cherry Lime-Aid™ Light, Sparkling Cherry Lime-Aid™, and Sparkling Cherry Lime-Aid™ Light; all exclusive original recipes by Firehouse Subs, served with fresh squeezed lime.

Firehouse Rewards

In 2015, the brand introduced its first digital loyalty rewards program, Firehouse Rewards, which allows guests to earn and redeem points for each visit through a smartphone app.

Firehouse Subs Public Safety Foundation

Firehouse Subs Public Safety Foundation® was founded in 2005 in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Firehouse Subs Founders Chris Sorensen and Robin Sorensen, traveled to Mississippi where they fed first responders as well as survivors. As they traveled back to Florida exhilarated, they knew they could do more and Firehouse Subs Public Safety Foundation was born. Firehouse Subs Public Safety Foundation was founded with the mission of providing funding, life-saving equipment and educational opportunities to first responders and public safety organizations.

Since then, Firehouse Subs Public Safety Foundation has given more than $24 million to hometown heroes in 46 states, Puerto Rico and Canada. Local fundraising initiatives include recycling empty five-gallon pickle buckets and selling them to guests for $2 each, a Round Up Program allowing guests to “round up” their bill to the nearest dollar, and spare change donation canisters.

In 2017, Firehouse of America LLC, pledged to donate 0.13% of all purchases to the Firehouse Subs Public Safety Foundation with a minimum donation of $1 million.

Industry Awards and Recognition

Firehouse Subs is consistently recognized as a leader in the fast casual segment. For the last three years, Firehouse Subs was ranked No. 1 by Technomic’s Chain Restaurant Consumers’ Choice Awards among fast casual brands in the categories of overall brand (2017), food quality (2016), service (2015) and atmosphere (2014). Forbes recognized Firehouse Subs in 2015 as a Best Franchise to Buy.


Firehouse Subs Wikipedia

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