Last updated on May 13th, 2019 at 02:22 pm
Milwaukee will soon be invaded by Erbert & Gerbert. E&G Franchise Systems, Inc., Eau Claire, which has 18 Erbert & Gerbert’s sub sandwich shops throughout Wisconsin, will open its first downtown Milwaukee restaurant in October.
The sub shop will be located at 612 N. Water St. and will be operated by franchisee Angie Storm.
The downtown location is only the beginning for the company’s entry into the Milwaukee-area market, E&G spokeswoman Michelle Ranum said.
"We are actively seeking franchisees and locations," Ranum said. "We’d love to put a bunch of them in Milwaukee. We’re really excited to reach Milwaukee."
The Erbert & Gerbert’s brand is becoming one of the Upper Midwest’s fastest-growing restaurant chains, and E&G expects annual revenues to climb to $9 million this year, Ranum said.
The company’s Wisconsin locations include Eau Claire, Appleton, DePere, Green Bay, LaCrosse, Menomonie, Oshkosh and Stevens Point. The shops have also opened in Minnesota and North Dakota.
In addition to its first Milwaukee site, E&G has franchises planning to open in Wausau and Superior, as well as another shop in the Fox Valley and Mankato, Ranum said.
The Erbert & Gerbert’s concept was founded by Kevin and Beth Schippers in Eau Claire in 1987. They based the name on a series of childhood fictional stories told to them by Kevin’s father, David Schippers. The stories featured two boys, Erbert and Gerbert Herbert, according to the company’s literature.
The Schippers opened their first restaurant in Eau Claire in 1988, and soon began expanding throughout the region.
The Erbert & Gerbert’s menu features sandwiches with unique names, such as "The Boney Billy," "The Jacob Bluefinger" and "The Girf."
The chain has become quite popular among college students in the markets it serves, Ranum said. And that was Storm’s introduction. Storm became a fan of the Erbert & Gerbert’s chain while she was a college student in LaCrosse. She has never owned a franchise before.
"It’s exciting and slightly nerve racking. I wanted to go into business for myself, and that started the process," Storm said. "The company itself is just a great company to work for. They’re family-oriented."
Milwaukee, of course, has no shortage of sub shops. Cousins Subs, operated by Menomonee Falls-based Cousins Submarines, and Subway Subs, operated by Doctor’s Associates, Inc. (DAI), of Milford, Conn., continue to jockey for the lion’s share of the market here, along with several smaller shops and the growing Quizno’s chain.
Erbert & Gerbert’s tries to distinguish its stores by featuring "extra-fresh" bread, by delivering its subs and by staying open "until after bar time" in each market it serves, Ranum said. "Our bread is considered ‘day-old’ after five hours," Ranum said.
Storm paid $25,000 for the Erbert & Gerbert’s franchise, Ranum said.
Storm will lease the 2,000-square-foot downtown site, which formerly was the home of a Subway shop, from Toon City II, LLC, a subsidiary of Burke Properties, said Ryan Mallery, a Burke development associate. That downtown Subway shop earlier this year moved up the block to 720 N. Water St.
5&10 Tap sold
Meanwhile, an historic downtown tavern will get new life under the ownership of a Cedarburg-based firm, according to Jim Benz, a commercial real estate broker with Ogden & Co. The tavern, the 5&10 Tap, has been acquired by Wave Development for $320,000, Benz said. The 3,196-square-foot building and the land have an assessed value of $227,100, according to city records.
Wave Development is operated by Lance A. Lichter, of Cedarburg.
The tavern, built in 1880, has a long history of serving the downtown market and the industry once prevalent near its 1850 N. Water St. address, including the tanneries that are now all shuttered. Lichter plans to renovate the facility and reopen it, taking advantage of the residential revitalization in the area.
Benz said that development made the tavern a hot property. "We had more action on that listing than any other we’ve ever had at Ogden," he said. "Interest came all the way from Chicago; we were showing it three to four times per day."
Aug. 16. 2002 Small Business Times, Milwaukee