Growing up on the West Coast, Letha Tran remembers eating Togo’s sandwiches before she was even tall enough to see over the counter. She didn’t realize it then, but this popular California-based brand would later become an important part in her adult life, too.
For years, Tran worked a nine-to-five job in human resources. But over time, she grew less and less satisfied with corporate life. Hungry for something more fulfilling, she decided it was finally time to invest in a brand she had always dreamed of owning—Togo’s.
“I’ve been eating Togo’s for over 20 years, and ever since college, I wanted to open one of my own. I remember asking my mom if she could help fund me the money to make that happen—but, of course, she encouraged me to go to college first. Then, 10 years later, the opportunity came up again to own a Togo’s—and I couldn’t say no. And with that, I traded in my corporate job for sneakers and a t-shirt,” Tran said.
More than three years later, Tran is a multi-unit franchisee with three restaurants in Morgan Hill and Redwood City. Going from first-time franchisee to multi-unit owner came with its challenges, Tran admits. But thanks to her experience in human resources, she understood the importance of hiring and training the right people—an asset that proved especially important as she opened up her second and third location.
“Once you open up your second location, your role completely changes. You become more of a district manager, and you realize that you can’t oversee every single detail of each store at all hours of the day. Instead, you need to create a strong team that you know you can rely on,” Tran said. “Know that everyone has a different personality and different strengths. Each person is also driven by different things. It’s crucial that you learn how to leverage them to your restaurant’s benefit.”
Training is also a crucial part of multi-unit ownership, Tran added. Tran enrolled her managers in Togos’ extensive training program that covers all aspects of restaurant operations. The training includes eight hours of food safety certification; a week of classroom training at our headquarters in San Jose, which covers business operations, bookkeeping, marketing, and systems for overseeing and managing the business; three weeks of on-the-job operations training at a Togo’s restaurant, learning to make sandwiches, manage inventory, and use the point of sale system.
“By having the manager trained the right way, I can take a step back and focus on three employees rather than 40. Being able to put your trust in your manager is paramount when operating several locations,” Tran said.
Today, Tran is one of dozens of other franchisees who are helping to successfully spread the growing brand throughout the West Coast. With nearly 300 restaurants that are either open or under development in six states throughout the country, Togo’s is strategically expanding its footprint throughout the Bay area, with plans to add 15 to 20 additional locations throughout the region. And with the help of franchisees like Tran, Togo’s is well on its way to becoming the sandwich brand to beat in California.
“What makes Togo’s different than other sandwich brands is the fact that we have an incredible product. The quality is better than most—we slice our meats daily and our avocados and produce are fresh. When you put that kind of care into the food you serve, people will notice—and they’ll keep coming back for more,” Tran said. “Years ago, I changed jobs because I was looking for something much more satisfying. Now, I can wake up every day and say that I love my job. Owning a Togo’s is my pride and joy.”