Firehouse Subs Comes to New England--First Stop: Danvers
Franchise Owner David Tucci is over-seeing an expansion project that will bring 85 restaurants to the area.
There are two things David Tucci, franchise owner and area rep for Firehouse Subs, wants to convey about the newly opened eatery in Danvers:
The first is that Firehouse Subs is not a sub shop, but rather, it's a fast-casual dining restaurant that promises to offer its customers the best service around. The second is Firehouse Subs has the best subs and sandwiches. Period.
The franchise is the brainchild of two Jacksonville, Florida firefighters, brothers Chris and Robin Sorensen, who share an entrepreneurial spirit, along with a 200 year family history of firefighting in their blood. Their idea to have a fast-casual restaurant with food inspired by New York delicatessens, combined with an authentic firehouse setting, and commitment to superior service took hold fourteen years ago.
Since then, Firehouse Subs has grown to include over four hundred franchises along the southeastern seaboard, garnering the attention of such notables in the industry as the Franchise Times, who named them in their 2010 "Next Top 100 Franchises" ranking. They received a Zagat rating for Top Service, and were named in Entrepreneur Magazine’s "Fastest Growing Franchise" from 2007-2010, among other notable accomplishments.
The large specialty subs boast a half-pound of steamed meat, and melted cheeses. Some Firehouse Subs favorites include the Hook & Ladder, which is packed with smoked turkey, honey ham and melted Monterey Jack cheese, and the New York Steamer, which combines corned beef brisket and pastrami, topped with Provolone.
The decor inside every Firehouse Subs restaurant is homey and casual, with a firehouse them including a custom, hand-painted mural by Florida muralist nicknamed “Joe Airbrush."
The Danvers mural is a depiction of the historic fire that took place at the Danvers Town Hall during the refurbishment in 2009. The Danvers Fire Department has also donated bunker gear and photos to display inside the shop, and Chief Farrell received a grant from the restaurant to be used to obtain necessary life saving equipment for the department.
As former firefighters the Sorensens are dedicated to improving the life-saving capabilities of all emergency services, with funding, resources, and support. To that end, they launched the Firehouse Subs Public Safety Foundation in 2005, which has donated well over $2 million in equipment and resources to Police, Fire, and EMS Departments across the country.
The Firehouse Subs in Danvers is the first in the north east, and will serve as a launching pad for an expansion plan of 85 franchises across New England, creating 2,500 new jobs over the next ten years, with franchisee owner and local businessman David Tucci overseeing the project.
Danvers Patch caught up with franchise owner and area rep David Tucci to find out more about him, about the Firehouse Subs brand and to learn more about the expansion plan for Firehouse Subs in the north east.
Patch: Where are you from originally?
DT: I'm actually from Rhode Island, I lived in Providence before moving to Boston, where I lived in the Fenway for a number of years before finally moving to Portland, where I met my wife Ashley,(who is from Caribou Maine,any more north and you're in Canada). We live in Portland, Maine and have a 17 month old daughter, Lucia.
Patch: Has it been difficult to oversee the Danvers restaurant while living in Portland?
DT: I have a temporary place down here. I was lucky to have a friend who is away and he has a condo here, so I’m basically squatting for a few months. I’m also the area rep for Firehouse Subs, responsible for bringing 85 restaurants to Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Vermont, over the next ten years. My 2nd franchise opening is in mid June on Boylston Street in Boston. Eventually I’ll replace myself with a manager to handle the daily responsibilities, and I am currently looking for more franchisees to train at the Danvers store; It’s insanity right now, especially with my wife starting a new job and with me opening up the new restaurant here; basically I need to clone myself, I need three or four of me! Luckily grandma stepped in to take care of Lucia for the week while my wife in New Jersey in training for her new job.
Patch: What is your background in the industry?
DT: Prior to this I was working up in Portland, Maine, at Portland Pie Company, which is a gourmet pizza pie with delivery, like a California Pizza Kitchen. I was involved in that for 20 years, and my business partner introduced me to Firehouse Subs. I’d never heard of it, like most people in the New Egland area. So, I went down and tried it, and loved the atmosphere-you are welcomed with open arms. It’s a level of service you don’t find that often; maybe in fine dining, but not in a casual setting. Combine that with the great food, and you can’t lose.
DT: I was familiar with the area from living in Boston with shopping at the malls, the North Shore and Burlington Malls, and I thought this area near route 128 and 95 would be centrally located for our training restaurant. From a demographic standpoint it really made sense, people can come down from Portland in an hour and twenty minutes once they become a franchisee.
How has Firehouse Subs been received so far?
DT: Everyone’s so excited about us coming here. We have a slogan, “Our way Beats Their Way,” and it is very true; if you disagree it’s free. We are a fast casual restaurant, with seating for over fifty people inside, and outside for another twenty; you will be greeted at the counter with a smile, order your food, take a seat, and someone will bring it to you...It’s different and better than everyone else. The founders Robin and Chris are really good guys, they’ll pop in at any time, and pitch in and help. It still has that Mom & Pop-feel, not like those other chain restaurant’s designed in a boardroom. Plus we support the local fire department in the community, so for all these reasons it made sense.
What has been the biggest obstacle with opening your franchise?
DT: First of all, the whole department model really works. Basically Robin and Chris are a couple of blue collar guys from Florida- what do they know about Danvers? So they partner up with a businessman like myself who knows the area, providing them a local resource they can tap into when they meet obstacles. But for the most part it has been (smooth sailing). This location was formerly Boaters World, with about 6000 sq ft. We subdivided it and the mall owners Simon Companies were very helpful with us, this was a pretty easy process.
What is the best part about your relationship with Firehouse Subs?
DT: We do a lot for the community, and for fire safety and education. When I met with Chief Farrell, I put a grant on his desk and told him, ‘ I’m sure your department is in need of something, just fill this out.’ It feels good that we’re selling great food, and saving lives by donating life saving equipment back.
What’s really cool for me is bringing this new brand here; people come up every single day and tell us: That was the best sandwich I’ve ever had. People are digging what we’re doing, and it feels really cool to be a part of that.
Firehouse Subs Danvers is located at the Liberty Tree Mall in the plaza at 35 Independence Way. The restaurant is open Monday - Saunday from 10:30 a.m. to 9 p.m.