Wisconsin-based Cousins Subs is kicking off its Midwest expansion plans in the Chicagoland area with the announcement of a development deal with veteran, multi-unit franchisees Amit and Kalpesh Patel to open 40 locations in the Windy City by the end of 2025. But that’s just the beginning of Cousins Subs’ Midwestern growth. While the brand is on pace to open its first Chicago location before the year comes to a close, the sub shop has its sights set on another major Midwest metropolis — St. Louis, Missouri.
“The Greater St. Louis area offers a variety of development opportunities for multi-unit franchisees,” shared the brand’s franchise sales manager J.J. Palmert. “We feel our brand will resonate well with franchise candidates and consumers across St. Louis and its surrounding communities.”
Cousins Subs’ has identified St. Louis as a target area for the brand due to its similarities to the Milwaukee market. The city’s size, Midwest pride and big city vibes are all aligned in both markets, and Palmert says that when those qualities are combined with the brand’s superior product, franchising with Cousins becomes an obvious choice for aspiring entrepreneurs.
“I think that our product stands out from the rest of the sub sandwich players in the marketplace. Between our grilled products and deli-fresh subs, Cousins is clearly distinguishable from other brands. Our sandwiches will stand out and be well received in the market just like it has been in Wisconsin since 1972.”
Cousins Subs is known for its East Coast-style subs and high-quality, simple ingredients. “Quality has no substitute” is a common mantra for the nearly 100-unit brand, which is why it’s currently in the process of revamping current locations to create a modern environment and enhance its dining experience for guests. These changes are incorporated into the franchising process from day one in new markets like Chicago and now St. Louis, giving franchisees a built-in competitive advantage.
Another competitive advantage that franchisees in the St. Louis area will have at their disposal is the fact that the brand has leveraged analytical research to identify ideal trade areas in the region that are a great fit for the brand. This will then allow Cousins to work with new franchisees to carve out exclusive territories to develop three to five units each. Palmert says the goal is to partner with veteran franchisees who have restaurant experience and the resources needed to develop multiple units over the next several years.
“The way the St. Louis market lays out is nice because we’re able to pick out territories for franchisees without encroaching on others in the market,” said Palmert. “As we look at the data, the city is setup to be a strong market for Cousins. We really look forward to entering St. Louis.”
The St. Louis market will also serve as an entry point into other target development cities for Cousins, including Kansas City, Indianapolis and Louisville, due to their similarities to the Milwaukee and Chicago markets.
Cousins Subs is eager to welcome new franchisees in St. Louis to continue to capitalize on the foundation and momentum that’s already been established in Chicago. “We’re confident that our strong history, franchise system and products will all come together and be well received.”
Startup costs to open a Cousins Subs typically range between $182,200 and $632,000.