When you think “sub shop chain”, you probably think Subway (for the inexpensive footlong), Quiznos (for the free cookies), or Jimmy John’s (for the free smells). But Jacksonville’s own Firehouse Subs menu prices has been building an impressive empire of its own, conquering 41 states and counting. Firehouse co-founder Robin Sorensen invited us out to a bonkers weekend at Bell Cross Ranch in Cascade, Montana for more information on his company, and, in the process, we became grizzled ranchers. Here’s what we learned from the experience.
Firehouse Subs was founded by two former firefighter brothers in 1994, specifically Robin (left) and Chris (right) Sorensen. Their dad have also been a firefighter, and a whole bunch of other Sorensen dudes before him — the household is honored on 200 years of professionally putting out flames. Nevertheless the brothers decided to try something different, and left the biz to eventually open their first sandwich shop in Jacksonville in ’94. Only after “lots of tips for different concepts and various businesses”, based on Robin, though, such as a Christmas tree farm. So if you smell fresh pine needles in one of the restaurants, you know why. (You’re possessing a stroke.)
Firehouse puts mayo on almost everything – New Yorkers best clutch their vintage Jeter jerseys, because at Firehouse, even their precious pastrami gets dressed up in mayonnaise. But Sorensen insists he wasn’t attempting to blaze a new condiment trail. “In the South, we put mayonnaise on everything, so that it wasn’t anything we even discussed,” he says. “You put mayonnaise on a sandwich. The discuss pastrami from delis in New York is that’s unheard of, it’s mustard only. I like that, too. But all that drove us was our very own personal tastes.”
Cascade, Montana is prime for panoramic photos – Using a population of less than one thousand, this town really requires you to definitely retreat into nature, and it’s pretty spectacular. Be sure to Instagram with caution, though. Montana hosts serious predators like mountain lions, and if they’re as bad as that a person from Talladega Nights, you’re in deep s**t.
Each restaurant features some of the Firehouse Subs history – You can catch the firefighter influences at the sub chain through their sandwich names (Hook & Ladder, The Engineer) along with their signature style (“fully involved” — which suggests a serious fire in industry speak — gets you mayo, deli mustard, lettuce, tomato, onion, as well as a kosher dill pickle on the side). But hqpdwo also get local fire chapters involved in every outpost. Each spot gets a custom mural, as well as the local departments can pitch in whatever representation they enjoy, ranging from old archived photos in the team in action to retired captains’ leather helmets.
Their hot sauce is a nod to their dad… who may be still very much alive. Firehouse loves hot sauce a great deal, they made their own branded stuff with regional Datil peppers. (Though Datils are pretty hot by themselves, the sauce is even more of a medium heat.) Chris and Robin named it after their dad to commemorate his 43 years on the force, nevertheless it had some unfortunate, morbid consequences. “Obviously, that meant a lot of people assumed he was dead,” Robin says. “We were required to tell them all, no, he’s still around.”