Like hearty portions of flavorful food?
Back in 1994, Robin Sorensen and his brother, Chris, considered purchasing an existing sub shop in Jacksonville but decided instead to start their own restaurant. The brothers focused on big portions of delicious food, welcoming service and, being former firefighters, public safety, Sorensen said.
Although the plan was just one sub shop, Firehouse Subs has grown to 543 locations across 32 states and Puerto Rico, including a brand new location at the Largo Mall, which held its grand opening Oct. 17.
Many of the locations, including the new one in Largo, are franchises. Nash Kanji and Sarju Patel co-own the Largo Mall Firehouse.
Each store reflects the local town. The new Largo store has a giant mural with Largo City Hall, the statue of the kids holding hands in Largo Central Park and a fire engine from Largo's Station 39 on 134th Avenue North.
Known for its steamed subs, the new Largo store has the popular selection of firehouse-themed sandwiches like the Hook & Ladder, which has smoked turkey breast, Virginia honey ham, and melted Monterey Jack. Plus, the chain's full range of subs, salads, chili and more are available.
Each store gives back to the community. Firehouse Subs has its own Public Safety Foundation, which started as a result of Hurricane Katrina when the brothers went to deliver food to Jacksonville firefighters and ended up feeding hurricane survivors. About 95 percent of the monies are used to purchase lifesaving equipment in local communities. The rest helps in natural disasters, Sorensen said.
A favorite flavor from Sorensen's childhood in Jacksonville is also available at each location. As a kid, Sorensen loved a homemade cherry lime drink that was sold in local sandwich shops. The brothers mixed up their own by hand, then went to Coca Cola and created a special formula of the drink just for Firehouse Subs, Sorensen said.