Firehouse Subs announced plans Friday to open a location in Starkville’s Middleton Court Shopping Center between late 2012 and early 2013, adding another nationwide franchise to Starkville’s restaurant repertoire.
William Craig, Starkville franchise owner, said he and his business partner, Denton Rogers, intend to open a second Firehouse Subs in Columbus at a date yet to be determined. The Starkville restaurant’s location is the former site of Factory Connection, he said.
“We selected this location due to it being a central point of Starkville, i.e. MSU campus, downtown, Starkville High and Starkville Academy,” Craig said. “My business partner, Denton Rogers, approached me with the idea of opening Firehouse Subs in Starkville in November of last year. After researching a number of restaurant franchises, we selected Firehouse Subs due to its sterling reputation among its franchise owners, support from headquarters staff, as well as the brand’s overwhelming popularity in SEC college towns.”
According to the franchise’s website, Firehouse Subs currently has more than 515 locations nationwide, with plans to reach 2,000 locations by 2020. Currently, Columbia, Mo., Baton Rouge, La. and Starkville are the only SEC cities without Firehouse Subs locations, according to the site’s franchise locator.
Austin Shafer, vice president for membership and the chamber of commerce at the Greater Starkville Development Partnership, said Firehouse Subs will be a welcome addition to Starkville. Chains like Firehouse Subs have a major role to play in Starkville’s economy, he said, and the GSDP is working to bring more of them to Starkville.
“We love to see the small mom-and-pop stores, but we (also) love to see chains,” Shafer said. “The more chains you see, the better your community is functioning on a regional scale. When you see more chains, you know that a town is growing. We’re actually actively going to conferences where these decision makers are. We’re promoting the city and saying, “Welcome, please look at us; we are open and ready to do business.”
The announcement comes a little more than two months after a ground breaking ceremony for a Beef O’ Brady’s on Stark Road, a little less than three months after Chick-fil-A opened its doors on Spring Street, and about a year after the openings of Buffalo Wild Wings and Newk’s. Starkville has a competitive sandwich market with Newk’s, Peppers, McAlister’s, Oby’s and more, but Craig said he believes Firehouse Subs can carve its own niche.
It’s not just the food that makes Firehouse Subs stand out, Craig said. Before founding Firehouse Subs in 1994, brothers Chris and Robin Sorenson both served as firefighters, he said, and the franchise maintains a commitment to the firefighting profession and the communities it enters.
“Maybe most importantly, Firehouse Subs is known for its Firehouse Subs Public Safety Foundation,” Craig said. “Restaurants raise money year-round, and any public safety entities can apply for grants through our Foundation. Since 2005, we’ve donated $5.2 million in 33 states including Puerto Rico and more than $61,700 in Mississippi.”
Craig said Firehouse Subs will be the first restaurant and the first business he has owned. He earned a finance degree from Mississippi State University in 2009, he said, and he finished his MBA in August 2010.
“I moved back to Starkville in April,” Craig said, “and I am thrilled to be back in this wonderful town and am grateful for the opportunity to positively impact the community through job creation and giving back to our local public safety organizations.”