Jacksonville, Florida-based Firehouse Subs is a fast-casual sandwich shop chain that was founded in 1994 by brothers and former firefighters Chris and Robin Sorensen. The company operates more than 1,135 locations in 44 states, Puerto Rico, Canada and Mexico.
Sharon Erickson had recently ended a 23-year career at Milwaukee-based Rockwell Automation Inc. and decided to pursue her longtime dream of opening a restaurant. After about two years of researching franchises, she and her husband, Bob Erickson, settle on Firehouse Subs. Bob still works at Rockwell.
After meeting with company founders and executives at its corporate headquarters, the couple signs an area franchise agreement to open three restaurants, originally in Mequon, Grafton and West Bend.
“We didn’t know which of the three locations we’d open first; it really depended on what was available first,” Sharon said. “A good location is sometimes very hard to come by.”
[caption id="attachment_365151" align="alignright" width="350"] Sharon and Bob with their team.[/caption]
The Ericksons sign a lease for a location in Brown Deer, after struggling to find real estate in Mequon and altering the franchise agreement. Contractors spend the next two months building out the 2,000-square-foot space.
The Ericksons open their first Firehouse Subs at 9070 N. Green Bay Road in Brown Deer.
Firehouse Subs opens in West Bend at 516 W. Paradise Drive, the Ericksons’ third location in less than two years. They opened their Grafton location in March 2017.
“The biggest thing about owning a restaurant is the relationships you have with your employees and with your customers,” Sharon said. “If I could cut myself into three and be at each one full time, that would be great, but you just can’t do that.”
The franchise fee
The initial fee to open a single-unit Firehouse Subs franchise is $20,000.
[caption id="attachment_365148" align="alignleft" width="350"] Firehouse Subs in Grafton.[/caption]