The toasted sub shop at 2907 N. Oakland Ave., blocks away from UW-Milwaukee’s campus, is the Colorado-based chain’s first store in the Milwaukee-area and second in Wisconsin. Cheba Hut’s menu features 30 signature sub sandwiches, salads, “munchies,” and a variety of Rice Krispy treats. It’s Milwaukee location also has a full-service bar, serving signature drinks like the Dirty Hippie, Hot Box and Cheba Rita, as well as local craft beer from Milwaukee Brewing Company, Third Space Brewing, Good City Brewing, 3 Sheeps Brewing Co.
Cheba Hut’s local expansion has been years in the making. In 2018, the company announced its intentions to open three to four restaurants in the Milwaukee area, and those plans finally moved forward last fall when the company secured a three-unit deal with local franchisees Heather Gawlitta and Robert ‘RC’ Huhn.
The Milwaukee couple owns the Upper East Side location and plans to open two more next year, they told BizTimes Milwaukee in March. Cheba Hut’s first Wisconsin location opened in 2013, in Madison. All told, Cheba Hut has about 40 locations in 14 states.
The decision to become franchise owners came after Gawlitta left her 26-plus-year career as a teacher, most recently in the Franklin Public School District. Huhn is currently the chief financial officer and owner of Oostburg-based Viking Masek Packaging Technologies and always had in interest in restaurant ownership. The couple was introduced to Cheba Hut last summer while hunting for the right franchising opportunity, and they were quickly sold on both the food and the brand – one that’s known for its laid back environment and putting its employees first.
“I think one of the things we love most about Cheba Hut is the fact that it’s not just a place for customers to pick up a great sandwich. It’s a destination,” Gawlitta said. “I’m excited to bring a fresh concept to the community where our employees are going to want to come to work. At the end of the day, we want our employees to love Cheba Hut just as much as we know the customers will.”