Cousins Subs saw an exciting start to 2019. Closing out its first quarter of the year, the family-owned, fast-casual sub shop has plenty to celebrate with the opening of a new Chicago location as part of a 40-unit deal and a growth spurt on the corporate team. But the brand has even more to look forward to soon, with expansion development initiatives on the horizon that will take the brand beyond its home state of Wisconsin.
Since 1972, Cousins Subs has fed Milwaukee, Wisconsin and the surrounding towns with East Coast-style subs, making the best subs with authentic passion for quality ingredients and service.
With nearly 100 shops across Wisconsin, Cousins Subs has set its sights on expansion throughout the Midwest, planning for immense growth in the next six years. Over the past year, Cousins Subs has begun ramping up development initiatives in Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky and Ohio. The company is also seeking franchisees within the St. Louis region while Illinois is in the process of being developed.
In 2018, Cousins Subs signed a 40-unit franchising deal with brothers Amit and Kalpesh Patel.
Cousins’ Illinois expansion initiative was kicked off in January 2019 with the opening of Cousins’ downtown Chicago restaurant, located in the heart of the Chicago Loop on Madison Street.
“As a brand that was built in the Midwest by Midwesterners, kicking off our out-of-state development efforts with a location in the heart of the city of Chicago is a big win for us, proving that our strategic changes are paying off,” said Christine Specht, CEO of Cousins Subs.
Before the year closes, Amit and Kalpesh plan to open between seven and eight more locations of their 40-unit franchise group deal with other locations in the Chicagoland area. The suburbs are slated to taste Cousins Subs soon with construction recently started on a location in Lombard, Illinois and other upcoming stores set to open in Wheaton, Palatine and Hoffman Estates. Crown Point, Indiana will also soon get a bite of Cousins Subs, with a site selected and lease signed there..
With plans set in place for further development in Chicago, Cousins Subs will continue its outward, concentric growth. Looking ahead to 2019’s second quarter, Cousins Subs is gearing up to focus its efforts on franchising further into the Midwest with a specific focus on Minnesota and Michigan along with Iowa, Kentucky, Ohio and Indiana.
“After our recent successful rebranding effort, we saw that it was a prime opportunity to fulfill our expansion vision,” said Joseph Ferguson, Vice President of Development for Cousins Subs. “We are expecting and planning for increased growth potential with both franchise groups as well as franchisees as we gain momentum throughout the Midwest. To accommodate such growth, we saw it necessary to add successful professionals to our team to ensure it is sustainable growth and one that is well supported, not just by our franchisees, but also by the corporate team.”
It’s only necessary for the corporate team to grow along with the company as development efforts are put in place and the brand expands. Christine Specht, who previously served as both President and CEO, is now focusing her efforts into the role of CEO of Cousins Subs. The shift in responsibilities was a seamless transition in which the team welcomed Chief Financial Officer Jason Westhoff to the role of President. This strategic move allows Specht to spend more time building long-term strategy and relationships within the Cousins franchise system and implementing brand values. Westhoff is a critical proponent of implementing new development strategies created by Specht and Ferguson.
During 2019’s first quarter, Cousins Subs also added Darren Tristano to the board of directors. A local to the Chicagoland area, Tristano is a big win for Cousins as they have begun expansion into Illinois. As the Former president of Technomic Inc. and current CEO of Foodservice Results, Tristano brings more than 25 years of industry knowledge and Chicagoland market awareness to Cousins Subs.
Continuing the trend of expansion, the Cousins leadership team added Senior Director of Operations and Talent Alan Lundeen and Vice President of Finance J.J. Grube, and promoted former Franchise Sales Manager, J.J. Palmert, to Director of Franchise Sales. All this growth is crucial to maintaining a healthy business growth model, according to Specht.
“As the brand is building steam, we found that adding and reshuffling roles within the Cousins team would be an incredible asset to us,” said Specht. “Our newest team members are excited to join our established family of support as we provide necessary resources to our franchisees and our corporate locations throughout the expansion period. If we can show potential franchisees how successful and supported our current locations are, we’re certain that will lead to sustainable growth across the board, for pre-existing members and future Cousins Subs owners.”
Looking forward, development initiatives are being set into motion by new members of the corporate team as efforts are being implemented throughout the Midwest. Ending 2019’s quarter one on such a high note provides plenty of drive to head into quarter two, and Specht and Ferguson are certain that the rest of the year will continue to support the positive climb and upward trend of Cousins Subs.
The initial start-up cost for a Cousins Subs ranges between $182,200 to $632,000 with a franchise fee between $45,000 to $67,000. To learn more about franchising opportunities with Cousins Subs, visit https://cousinssubsfranchise.com/.