The fast-casual restaurant chain Firehouse Subs is set to open a Madison location Feb. 12 at 7854 Mineral Point Road in the Oakbridge Commons Shopping Center. It will be the third Firehouse Subs to open in Wisconsin this year.
The company, founded by former firefighters and brothers Chris and Robin Sorensen nearly 18 years ago in Jacksonville, Fla., has 579 locations in 34 states and Puerto Rico, said Eric Erwin, an area rep for the company, who is helping to develop 42 locations in the state.
Erwin, who lives in Lake Mills, is a franchisee in the Mineral Point Road store along with partners Scott Anthony and Don Davey, a former football player who played four years for the Badgers and then five years for the Green Bay Packers. Anthony and Davey own 12 other Firehouse Subs in Orlando, Fla., Erwin said
The three men are partners in the Badger Restaurant Group, which is developing eight restaurants in Madison, he said. “They are based out of Florida. I’m the guy on the ground here in Wisconsin.”
The first Firehouse in Wisconsin was expected to open last week in Green Bay, with another following suit in Elm Grove/Brookfield. Both have different franchisees, Erwin said.
Erwin said Firehouse steams all its meats and cheeses. Customers can choose medium (a quarter pound of meat) or large sandwiches (a half pound). All the cheeses are Sargento from Wisconsin, he said.
“All of our subs are served fully involved with mayonnaise, mustard, lettuce, tomato, onion and a dill pickle spear,” Erwin said.
Erwin also said Firehouse was the first chain to have the Coca-Cola freestyle fountain in every restaurant. (Noodles & Company has them, too). The machine features more than 120 soft drink varieties, he said.
Also like Noodles, Firehouse employees deliver food to the tables.
“We have a unique dining experience. We always welcome everybody into the Firehouse by saying, ‘Welcome to Firehouse’ with heartfelt service,” Erwin said.
Through its Firehouse Subs Public Safety Foundation, established in 2005, the company provides funding, life-saving equipment, and educational opportunities to first-responders. So far, the nonprofit has donated $5.7 million to first responders in 35 states and Puerto Rico.
“It’s kind of the heart of our business,” said Erwin, who does not have a firefighting background.
Punta Cana looking to move
Alberto Santos, who opened the Dominican restaurant Punta Cana last spring at 2705 W. Beltline Highway, is looking to move his business Downtown.
Santos said he is considering two locations and talking to landlords.
He promises more authentic decor from his native Punta Cana at the new restaurant.
His sister, Nana Santos, had been living in Italy for 10 years and came to Madison to serve as the restaurant’s original chef. She went back to Italy recently for family reasons, and was replaced by Jami Flores, who is from the Dominican Republic via New York.
Alberto Santos said that Flores is more creative and has changed a few things, leaving the buffet mostly the same. The dinner menu has changed to reflect what has been popular with customers, Santos said.
“I don’t want to say she’s better than my sister, but she is really, really good. She’s really outstanding,” Santos said.
Santos was upset over a review that said the restaurant’s food was not spicy enough. “Our food is mild, like Puerto Rican food. We don’t have spicy food. That review was not right.”