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 menu has been building an amazing 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 family is honored on 200 numerous years of professionally putting out flames. Nevertheless the brothers chose to try something different, and left the biz to eventually open their first sandwich shop in Jacksonville in ’94. Only after “lots of suggestions for different concepts and different businesses”, based on Robin, though, together with a Christmas tree farm. So when you smell fresh pine needles within the restaurants, you already 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 seeking to blaze a brand new condiment trail. “Inside the South, we put mayonnaise on everything, so that it wasn’t anything we even discussed,” he says. “You set mayonnaise on a sandwich. The reply to pastrami from delis in New York is that’s unusual, it’s mustard only. I like that, too. But everything that drove us was our personal personal tastes.”
Cascade, Montana is prime for panoramic photos – With a population of lower than 1,000, this town really requires you to retreat into nature, and it’s pretty spectacular. Make sure to Instagram with caution, though. Montana is home to serious predators like mountain lions, and if they’re as bad as that one from Talladega Nights, you’re in deep s**t.
Each restaurant features a number of the firehouse menu history – It is possible to catch the firefighter influences in the sub chain through their sandwich names (Hook & Ladder, The Engineer) and their signature style (“fully involved” — which means a significant fire in industry speak — gets you mayo, deli mustard, lettuce, tomato, onion, as well as a kosher dill pickle on the side). But hqpdwo get local fire chapters involved with every outpost. Each spot turns into a custom mural, and also the local departments can pitch in whatever representation they like, ranging from old archived photos in the team actually in operation to retired captains’ leather helmets.
Their hot sauce is a nod with their dad… who may be still very much alive. Firehouse loves hot sauce a great deal, they made their particular branded stuff with regional Datil peppers. (Though Datils are pretty hot on their own, the sauce here 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 had to let them know all, no, he’s still around.”