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Firehouse Subs planning 16-store expansion in Cincinnati

Fast-growing chain to open 3 stores by September

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CINCINNATI - Firehouse Subs is targeting Cincinnati for expansion, with 16 new stores to be added in the next five years. The franchise restaurant chain, based in Jacksonville, Fla., already has six stores open in the Tri-State.

Area Representative Charles Fryman told WCPO Digital at the ICSC convention in Las Vegas May 22 that three new stores will open by September in Florence, Clifton Heights and Highland Heights. In addition, the company is scouting for potential sites in Eastgate, Oakley and Forest Park.

Firehouse Subs was the nation's second fastest-growing restaurant chain (among companies with over $200 million in sales) in 2012, with revenue jumping 33.5 percent to $380 million, according to data published by March by Technomic Inc. The 500 largest U.S. restaurant chains generated $254 billion in 2012 revenue, up 4.9 percent from a year ago.

The chain was started 18 years ago by former firefighters and brothers Chris and Robin Sorenson. It has grown to more than 600 restaurants in 35 states, according to the company's web site. 

Fryman relocated to Cincinnati three years ago to build the Cincinnati, Dayton and Northern Kentucky markets for Firehouse Subs. He signed seven local franchise agreements since then.

"Most of the franchisees are ready to do their second restaurant," he said.

Firehouse Subs restaurants are typically less than 2,000 square feet in size. Startup costs range from $250,000 to $300,000, according to the company. Fryman said Cincinnati's real estate market is tightening up, but the company will be patient in site selection, making sure its stores have high visibility and traffic counts.

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