Firehouse Subs, a specialty sandwich shop, officially opens for business today in Cranberry Township.
Part of a franchise founded close to two decades ago in Jacksonville, FL, by former firefighter brothers Robin and Chris Sorensen, Firehouse Subs serves up a variety of hot and cold subs in a fast casual environment.
In the case of the hot subs, the customers’ chosen meats are “steamed” before being placed on toasted bread. The restaurant’s No. 1 seller is the “Hook & Ladder,” which consists of smoked turkey, Virginia honey ham and Monterey Jack cheese
“It’s the best subs they’re ever going to have,” said restaurant owner Matt Liggett, who also is the area representative for Firehouse Subs in western Pennsylvania. “The meats we serve are choice cuts of meat.”
While the restaurant chain has more than 500 locations across the nation and Puerto Rico, the Firehouse Subs in Cranberry will be the first of its kind north of Pittsburgh. The location overlooks Route 19 in the Streets of Cranberry shopping plaza, a storefront that has been empty ever since the Original DiCarlo’s Famous Pizza shut its doors in the fall.
Last fall, Washington County. Liggett said he also is scouting locations for a new restaurant in Robinson. The goal is to open 35 to 38 Firehouse Subs in the Pittsburgh market in the next seven years, he said.
“It’s really grown a lot in the last five years,” he said of the franchise. “As we like to say, it’s catching on like wildfire.”
Part of the Firehouse Subs business model is to retain close ties with fire departments in the communities where the restaurants are located. Cranberry is no exception.
Liggett said a mural on the restaurant’s wall would feature “Big George,” aka the s tower ladder truck, as well as renderings of and a piece of twisted steel that fell from one of the World Trade Center towers on Sept. 11, 2001, which Cranberry firefighters plan around.
Hanging from heavy hooks near the front of the building will be a firefighter jacket, helmet and other equipment donated to the restaurant by the fire company that will be available for customers and kids to try on. Dotting the walls of the restaurant are 16-by-20 inch photos of the local volunteers in action.
But the company’s commitment to local fire departments goes beyond just décor.
Through its Public Safety Foundation, Firehouse Subs provides funding, equipment and educational opportunities to first-responders. Each restaurant recycles leftover, five-gallon pickle buckets and sells them to customers for $2 each.
Donation canisters on register counters explain the nonprofit’s mission and collect spare change, while the round-up program allows guests to “round up” their bill to the nearest dollar.
In April, ; it was used to buy a new thermal imaging camera. Since 2005, which is when the nonprofit was first established, the foundation has donated more than $4.5 million to first responders, according the company.
Cranberry Fire Chief Brian Kovac said he is pleased the restaurant is opening in the community—and that it will be decorated with memorabilia from the company. He added the grant program also is a plus because it could save local tax dollars from being used to buy equipment for the fire company, which receives financial support from the township.
“It’s nice to have the recognition,” Kovac said.
The restaurant also will feature a Coca-Cola Freestyle Fountain—similar to the one at —offering more than 120 flavors.
Firehouse Subs officially opens at 10:30 a.m. Following that, the restaurant will be open from 10:30 to 9 p.m. seven days a week, Liggett said. He expects to have a grand opening celebration for the restaurant later in the summer.
This story originally appeared in Cranberry Patch.