Firehouse Subs is a fast food chain that provides sandwiches but they have a very unique story. If you haven't heard of them or tried their amazing sandwich meals then you're missing out. The American sandwich makers have a very special theme going on and their story is well worth hearing. Get ready to discover 20 things about Firehouse Subs that you didn't know.
1. It comes in second to Subway
When you think about it, this is really quite a feat because Subway is the number one ranked sandwich chain in America. Firehouse is not as large and they're not located in as many cities. If you haven't heard about them yet, this is why, but they're catching up with Subway slowly. In the places where Firehouse Subs sets up shops, they're really popular because the food is excellent, the prices are within reason and they have a very cool theme that most people love.
2. Firehouse Subs has a Fireman theme
Firehouse doesn't refer to hot and spicy, it actually represents the brave men and women who serve our local communities by providing emergency fire and rescue services. Some examples of the names of their sandwiches include the Hook and Ladder which is one of their classics. When it comes to the heat of their sandwiches, you have options for adding a variety of different hot sauces. If you like your food extra hot and spicy, they have some tongue burning sauces available, but if you're not into spice you can go with condiments that add no heat whatsoever. There's a little something for everyone at Firehouse Subs.
3. It really was founded by firefighters
Two brothers who were born into a family of firefighters established Firehouse Subs. It began as a small sandwich shop. They didn't have a lot of money when they first started. In fact, in an interview, Robin and Chris Sorensen had $100. In 1994, they opened the first Firehouse Subs eatery in Jacksonville, Florida. The largely successful sandwich chain had very humble beginnings. The brothers credit their lack of having money to their success. They learned that they had to be patient and since they didn't have a lot of money, they had to focus on learning the business through experience in order to make it successful. They applied and grew their new business slowly. It took them two years of planning before they were able to raise the money needed to open their first location in Jacksonville. The shop was open for several years before the brothers made a profit and began to expand. They did it the right way which was slow and steady.
4. The Sorensen brothers are role models for new entrepreneurs
Chris and Robin Sorensen are really two very good role models for anyone who has a great idea for a new business. The things that we can all learn from them are number one, dreams can come true if you really apply yourself to making them a reality. The second thing we can learn from them is that you have to be patient. Even if you don't have a lot of money, you can make plans and start out slowly. The third thing is that it takes patience and a lot of hard work. They didn't become successful overnight. In fact, it took them several years, but they didn't give up and they didn't move too hastily. They worked within their budget and put their money into the business until it caught on and began to turn a profit. This is their formula for success and the proof is in the sandwich so to speak.
5. The sandwich sauces are ranked from one to ten in heat
Firehouse Subs is doing their customers a solid by rating their sandwich sauces on a spiciness scale of one to ten. One is the least spicy and ten is the ultimate in spicy heat. This is really a public service because some like it hot and others do not. If you take a bite and it tingles your tongue, at least you were warned. It's really cool for families who have a mixed bag of preferences. Everyone gets their sandwich just the way they want it.
6. Firehouse customers rate it above Subway in generosity
We're not trying to compare the two phenomenal sandwich chains here, but rather, to let the facts stand for themselves. In reviews, we couldn't help but notice that there is a big difference between the two. You won't find as many vegetable options at a Firehouse Sub location, so it's fair to give Subway the lead on this point, but Firehouse dedicates their efforts to piling the meat choices high on their sandwiches. If you're into a hearty sandwich that doesn't skimp on the meat, cheese and sauce, then you're probably going to prefer Firehouse because they're really generous with these ingredients and it's not an exaggeration to say that they pile them high. You get your money's worth at Firehouse Subs.
7. Firehouse Subs had to be creative with their healthy options menu
Firehouse Subs focused on providing meat and cheeses in generous portions and up until 2014, they didn't offer a healthier options menu. It took a lot of thoughtful planning to come up with items that would provide the healthier benefits that some customers were looking for without compromising the integrity of their original formulas. They had built a signature taste and uniqueness that must remain pure. They came up with a reasonable plan that would preserve the goodness and originality of their sandwiches by reducing the amount of bread on some sandwiches and offering dressings and mayo that were low-fat and lower in calories. They finally came up with a sandwich menu that could boast that all of the items were less than 500 calories but offered precisely the same amount of meat, and more importantly, the protein values of the higher calorie sandwiches. Once again, their patience and thoughtful planning had paid off.
8. The founders were inspired by Hurricane Katrina
When Hurricane Katrina struck, the brothers who understand very well the impact of such a natural disaster responded by doing everything that they could to help. They have very strong ties to the firefighting community. These brave men and women work tirelessly well beyond the hours of what would be considered as a normal shift and in 2005, when the disaster hit, the Sorensens donated equipment to help the first responders who were working in the Mississippi area. They are very well aware of the needs, perhaps more so than many other people who were generous with their donations at the time, so they directed their charitable efforts towards meeting the real needs that they were aware of.
9. Firehouse Subs established the Firehouse Subs Public Safety Foundation
The business goes over and above in their charity efforts to help first responders and their local communities. The Firehouse Subs Public Safety Foundation has raised $33 million as of early in 2018 and they have designated the proceeds to go towards helping first responders working in 43 of the United States and Puerto Rico. They provide grants when financial assistance is needed, they donate lifeboats, they help to purchase modern equipment when a firehouse cannot afford to make the purchase and much more. They're really donating to the local communities by shoring up the firehouses with necessary equipment so they can serve the public better.
10. They're helping with the Hurricane Maria crisis
After Hurricane Maria struck Puerto Rico, the devastation was immense. People there continue to struggle to rebuild after the devastating storm wiped out homes, government buildings, roads and took out the utilities that the public depended upon. In March of 2018, Firehouse Subs through their Public Safety Foundation made a donation of grant money to support the cleanup efforts and help the victims of the storm rebuild their lives and restore their local communities more quickly.
11. Each mural you see in their shops are unique
Firehouse Subs has gone all out with their themed decor. They've gone the extra mile in making sure that every Firehouse Subs location has walls that are decorated with firefighter-themed murals. They're not just random murals and there is a formula behind them. Each must pay homage to the firehouse that exists within their local community. Firehouse Subs works with the local firehouses to secure old pictures and get information so the mural is an accurate depiction that renders the respect due to each individual firehouse. Some local firehouses even donate old equipment so the patrons can get a little dose of the history of their local firehouse while they're enjoying their meals.
12. One artist paints all the murals
The murals are unique in one other aspect. They're not designed by a team of artists, each is designed by the same artist and his name is Joe Puskas. Joe begins work on each mural with a pencil and a sketch pad. He does have a team that pants the murals but he alone is the artist in charge of achieving the perfect form and depictions which are based on important details that are supplied by the local firehouses. When you go into a local Firehouse Subs restaurant, you won't see the same mural painted anywhere else. If the town firehouse has a mascot, you'll no doubt see it represented in the mural along with other distinctions.
13. Firehouse Subs has private charitable donations
The Firehouse Subs Public Safety Foundation is a very public and transparent charitable organization, but it's not the only one that they support. They support charities in other ways that they don't publicize. Firehouse Subs keeps it on the lowdown, but they go out during Christmas time and at other important times of the year and supply meals for free to first responders. You won't hear about this because it's something that they want to keep between them and the first responders that they serve, but it's important for the world to know how charitable Firehouse Subs really is. They're great guys that run a successful business and they're not forgetting their brethren in Fire services. They do a lot that the public is not aware of and this comes from the depths of their hearts. They're successful and they're determined to spread their good fortune around to others in many different ways.
14. There is a Firehouse Subs hot sauce challenge
Here is a little known fun fact about Firehouse Subs. Hot sauce junkies have learned that they can get a good fix of heat anytime they want at the sub shop. Their most highly ranked hot sauces can practically melt your face off. A group of heat enthusiasts who rank from novice to expert have put together a collection of YouTube videos that feature the Firehouse Subs Hot Sauce Challenge. You get to watch first hand what happens as they begin with level 1 and move up to level 10. In case you're wondering and haven't had the nerve to try for yourself, this may be a good collection of videos to watch before you try it on your own.
15. The Sorensens are picky about their ingredients
You won't need to worry about quality or freshness when it comes to the ingredients that are used in Firehouse Subs. The Sorensens handpick many of the distributors who supply the ingredients themselves. This is because they want to provide the highest quality sandwiches and they don't want to deviate from a formula that is working. Using different distributors who may not offer the kind of quality that they demand is something that is unacceptable to the brothers. This is just one of the things that have made their business such a big success. They want the ingredients to be uniform so customers know what they're getting is going to be the same in every location.
16. They have one special in-house hot sauce but the others are sourced
The Sorensens have hand selected a variety of hot sauces from different hot sauce countries throughout the United States, but there is one special sauce that is a specialty hot sauce that is made in-house. This means that there is only one place in the world that you can get it and they've named it Captain Sorensen's Datil Pepper Hot Sauce. They named the in-house creation after their father who is Captain Robert Sorensen.
17. The Sorensens have an obsession with mayonnaise
Firehouse Subs come loaded with mayo so if you're not a big fan of the stuff, you'd better tell them in advance to leave it off. Most of their subs are advertised on the menu and let you know exactly what's on them and it's hard to find one that doesn't come with a generous helping of mayonnaise. They even put it on their pastrami sandwiches, which usually only come with mustard, but the Sorensens put their own unique twist on it. They use the Duke's mayonnaise brand which most Southerners are well-acquainted with.
18. There's a good copycat recipe out for the Hook & Ladder
If you're a big fan of the Hook and Ladder and you don't live near a Firehouse Subs location, the good news is that you can make your own from home. Genius Kitchen offers a recipe that features the same smoked turkey breast, honey ham and melted Monterey Jack cheese and it shows you how to create the masterpiece in your own kitchen.
19. The Sorensens are ranchers
The founders of Firehouse Subs are not just involved in the sandwich chain industry. They also own their own ranch in Cascade, Montana. The ranch is massive and the 9,000-acre expanse is complete with cattle and horses. They call it Bell Cross Ranch and it really is a working ranch.
20. The Sorensens host western adventures
When the Sorensen family is not busy with their sandwich chain or developing a new sandwich, they're hosting guests as well as the media on their ranch where they offer hiking, horseback riding, mounted shooting, campfire grilling and much more. They really know how to live life well and they enjoy sharing their good bounty with others.
Written by Dana Hanson
Read more posts by Dana Hanson