That the Firehouse Subs annual Founders Tour takes longer to complete each year is a testament to the company’s growth.
Started in 1996 by firefighter brothers Robin and Chris Sorensen, the sandwich shop chain has spread from Jacksonville, Fla., throughout the Southeast to as far away as Las Vegas.
Next year, the Sorensens are expected to add at least one more midstate visit to the tour.
Firehouse Subs plans to open a Dublin restaurant on Veterans Boulevard as early as December, area franchisee Will Collins said Tuesday during a Founders Day stop in Macon.
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“It’s a great area with a lot of potential. It’s in need of a good sandwich shop,” Collins said at the Firehouse Subs on Forsyth Road.A new restaurant typically employs between 20 to 25 employees, CEO Don Fox said.
Fox and co-founder Robin Sorensen found the Forsyth Road restaurant hopping on their lunch hour visit.
The restaurant is one of three in Macon, and there are another two in Warner Robins.
Fox said the chain is eyeing future expansion besides Dublin in the area but no plans are imminent.
“We could possibly support another two, total,” Fox said, noting that Macon is an “older market for us.”
The first Firehouse Subs in Middle Georgia was the one on Tom Hill Sr. Boulevard, which opened in August 2003, but that store soon may be looking for a new location. Firehouse area representative Chris Holmes said the Kroger store next door plans to expand.
“We’re going to still have a store in that market,” Holmes said.
The chain now has 392 stores after opening a new one Tuesday in Louisville, Ky. The tour is a good way to connect with the company’s almost 6,000 employees, Fox said.
“For us, it’s a goodwill visit to meet with the franchisees and employees, to keep the culture very strong as we grow. I think the staff really likes to see the founders.”
The restaurants carry a prominent firehouse theme, from its decor to its sandwich names to its hot sauce in fire hydrant-style containers. Robin Sorensen said he and his brother wrestled with “a lot of names” for their restaurant venture but always knew it would acknowledge the family’s 200 years in fire fighting. His brother won out.
“He said Firehouse Subs just rolls off the tongue,” Robin said.
The chain’s nonprofit Public Safety Foundation has given more than $2.5 million in life-saving equipment — including more than $15,000 to Macon in training tools for children.