bannerFranchisee Stories

The Great Franchisee: Makea Macaluso, Togo’s, Las Vegas

The career entrepreneur is opening her first — and second and third — franchise with the fast-growing sandwich brand.

From a young age, Makea Macaluso says she knew she wanted to be an entrepreneur. After establishing a successful career in real estate investments, Macaluso is now opening her first franchise with Togo’s, the 200-plus-unit West Coast sandwich brand. 

Macaluso, who says she’s been a fan of the brand all her life, plans to open an additional two locations by 2023. We talked to Macaluso to learn more about her journey to franchise ownership.

1851 Franchise: Tell us your story – what did you do before franchising?

Makea Macaluso: You could say I was born with an entrepreneurial spirit. My grandmother raised me on her own, and she ran multiple businesses out of our home, whether it was selling handmade quilts, blankets, candles or princess house crystal glasses. She showed me constant encouragement, which I largely attribute to my success. While I’m extremely proud of my accomplishments in business and real estate, I’m most passionate about inspiring others to go out into the world and achieve greatness. I want my story to inspire others to pursue their dreams.

I have extensive experience in the customer service industry with past roles in a quick-service restaurant, an in-home senior care facility and in the real estate sector. My first job was at Kentucky Fried Chicken, before I took on a role assisting elderly residents in my local community with their daily needs. I moved to Las Vegas in 2004 and was working three different jobs before I began pursuing a career in real estate. I received my real estate license in 2007 and worked part-time for about two years before diving in full-time. My husband, who is also in the real estate industry, and I have also invested into multiple apartment buildings and owned two separate businesses as well. I actually met my husband while working at KFC. He worked across the street at Togo’s, and we’ve been together for 18 years after being introduced by a mutual friend.

1851: How did you initially find out about franchising and what was your perception of franchising before becoming a franchise owner?

Macaluso: I initially found out about franchising when I worked at KFC. I had no idea that a regular joe could pursue ownership with a brand with national recognition before learning that my manager’s brother was opening his own location. He had started out as a cashier and worked his way up to business ownership. Once I saw that someone could start a franchise from a position which I held, it was my ultimate goal. I was sure from an early age that anything is possible, and I knew one day I would own my own franchise.

1851: How did you decide you wanted to be a franchisee?

Macaluso: Once I learned of the opportunity another KFC employee found with franchising, I knew I wanted to pursue the same path. My husband and I had opened two different businesses in the junk removal and home cleaning industries before deciding to go all in with our real estate business a few years ago. Our real estate business has now allowed us to pursue business ownership with Togo’s in addition to a non franchised junk removal business we will introduce to the community by the end of the year. 

In March 2021, we decided to pursue business ownership in the restaurant industry and chose to research different franchises. We had a few factors that played a role in our decision but wanted to bring a great concept to our local community. Franchising excites me because we’re connecting with a corporate team, which provides us the blueprint to run a successful business.

1851: How did you perform your research?

Macaluso: I conducted research over Google searches, which is where I learned that there was an opportunity to bring Togo’s, a favorite of mine for more than two decades, to Las Vegas. After deciding on the brand, I attended Discover Day and connected with current franchisees to learn about their experiences with Togo’s.  

1851: Why did you pick Togo’s? What excited you most about the potential?

Macaluso: My first job was at a KFC, which was directly across the street from a Togo’s, which is where my husband worked before we met. I’ve always loved the brand and enjoyed the sandwiches. To this day, everytime I go back to California and visit, my first stop is to grab a sandwich from Togo’s. When I found out the brand was looking for franchisees in my local community, I knew it was the perfect fit. Once I set my mind on Togo’s, everything fell into place, and I was extremely comfortable with my decision.

Once I knew that this was an opportunity I wanted to pursue, I began reaching out to current franchise owners to hear about their experiences with the brand, especially throughout the pandemic. Each franchisee I spoke with raved about corporate’s support over the past year and a half. Seeing that a large brand did not just shut their doors but adapted to ensure franchisees were thriving really impressed me. I’m passionate about helping others and so is Togo’s. Having core values that aligned was an essential part of my decision-making process. The remodel of Togo’s 3.0 also played a large part in my decision to pursue business ownership with the brand. 

1851: What are your dreams with the business? What does the future look like?

Macaluso: My ultimate dream for Togo’s is to grow a small, local business that provides job opportunities in the community and that customers can rely on for high-quality sandwiches and service. I believe that the future holds a lot of potential, and I’m excited about it. My goal is to open my second location within a year of my first location.

Something that was important to me was hiring a manager with Togo’s experience. I vocalized that goal to John Dyer, Togo’s Director of Franchise Sales and Real Estate, and he put me in touch with an employee with 20-plus years of experience with the brand who is moving to Las Vegas. Now, I have a manager with extensive experience who will help provide the phenomenal Togo’s experience that people from California have come to expect and introduce the brand to those who have yet to experience it. This venture is something completely new for me, but it’s felt comfortable from the beginning as the natural progression of my career. Service has been at the forefront of my entire career and will be the most important part of this new business.

1851: What advice would you have for others looking at buying a franchise?

Macaluso: Do your research and make a plan. You have to pursue the business opportunity that makes you comfortable. I’m a big believer in writing out goals, so I suggest to anyone else going down this path to do the same. 

1851: What do you do in your personal time?

Macaluso: My life revolves around my family. My husband and I are the proudest parents to a three-and-a-half-year-old son and an eight-month-old daughter. We travel to Zion National Park about three or four times a year and enjoy any activity outdoors.


Togo's Sandwiches was founded in 1971 in San Jose, California, by a young college student with a large appetite and little money who was looking to make sandwiches the way he liked them — big, fresh and meaty. Today, that spirit of the founder and the original sandwich shop continues. Like the first days of the brand, Togo's products are still made with only the highest quality ingredients, including fresh artisan breads, hand-sliced premium pastrami, turkey and roast beef, as well as Hass avocados hand-mashed in-house daily. Togo's is a franchised business that offers entrepreneurs a terrific opportunity to own their own business. With nearly 200 locations open and under development throughout the West, the brand is a restaurant staying ahead of the pack. For more information, to find your closest Togo’s location, or to order online, please visit