1851 lists leading sandwich brands with less than 50 locations.
The sandwich category continues to be a hotbed for franchisees looking to enter the fast-casual or quick-service restaurant industries. Fresh ingredients, hearty meats and crisp bread all mixed with the innovation and creativity of the below sandwich shops indicate why each brand has growth opportunities.
As the sandwich segment continues to gain popularity, 1851 is breaking down 10 emerging concepts that are on the rise.
Unit count: 21
Investment range: $336,000-$678,000
Cheba Hut has been escaping the norm and getting “toasted” since 1998. Founder Scott Jennings wanted to showcase the harmony between great tasting food and marijuana culture. In doing so, Jennings founded the first marijuana-themed “joint.” The menu has over 30 signature sub sandwiches such as the Dank Pizza Sub, the White Widow and Kali Mist as well as Rice Krispy treats, salads and munchies of all kinds. Most locations also offer local craft beers. Cheba Hut has locations in Arizona, Colorado, California, New Mexico, Oregon and Wisconsin.
My Friend’s Place Deli
Unit count: 6
Investment range: $156,650-$260,400
Back in 1980, David and Rosalind Katz saw a need for a restaurant that would provide fast and healthy meals. They wanted the name of the restaurant to reflect their appreciation for the support and generosity they experienced during the creation of the concept and My Friend’s Place Deli was born. The deli has grown its footprint to six locations throughout the Atlanta metro area. My Friend’s Place Deli continues to innovate their menu, which now includes pitas, wraps, club sandwiches and homemade desserts.
Jon Smith Subs
Unit count: 10+
Investment range: $324,000-$632,484
The first Jon Smith Subs opened in 1988 in Palm Beach County, Florida with a commitment to serve the freshest subs overstuffed with top quality sirloin steak and real chicken breast. The meats are trimmed, sliced, seasoned, marinated and grilled to order in-store so that customers won’t have to second guess where the meat is coming from. Jon Smith Subs is among Franchising.com’s Top 200 Food and Restaurant Franchises. The brand is set to open 14 new locations across the United States and will be offering franchise opportunities in Australia in the near future.
Top Round Roast Beef
Unit count: 4
Founded in Los Angeles by Jamie Tiampo, Anthony Carron, Steven Fretz and Noah Ellis, Top Round Roast Beef was inspired by the desire for good, wholesome food that’s made fresh and fast. With four locations across the U.S. in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Louisville and Dallas, the menu features slow-roasted roast beef, hand-breaded fried chicken, hand-cut curly fries and creamy frozen custard, with catering options also available at the California and Texas locations. Franchise opportunities are available in all 50 states.
East Hampton Sandwich Co.
Unit count: 10
Founded in 2012 by Hunter Pond, East Hampton Sandwich Co. has 10 locations throughout Texas, with eight in Dallas and two in Houston. Pond, who was pursuing a law degree before entering the restaurant industry, wanted to prove that the upscale American-grill quality sandwich could work in a fast-casual environment. Featured menu items include the honey grilled chicken, sidewalk patty melt, lobster grilled cheese and New England clam chowder. East Hampton Sandwich Co. offers catering including boxed lunches and platters full of top-quality, scratch-made ingredients and freshly-baked bread.
Pork & Mindy’s Creative BBQ
Unit count: 6
Investment range: $550,000 to $800,000
Founder Kevin Corsello grew up in Chicago, where his happy place was behind the grill or whipping up tasty food in his parent’s slow-smoker. On a long drive, he felt homesick for his favorite meal: fresh, hearty, smoked BBQ. His love for food, music and art led him to call up his long-time friend from Chicago, Jeff Mauro, an Emmy-nominated celebrity chef. The two minds were aligned in their vision to use food, music and art as a means of bringing people together, and Pork & Mindy’s Creative BBQ was created. The menu features creative “sangwiches,” tater tot creations, filling salads and “nados” ice cream treats. Pork & Mindy’s is planning to have 50 locations by 2020. Five of the six current locations are scattered throughout the Chicagoland area, including a location at Wrigley Field. The non-Chicago location is in Minneapolis.
Unit count: 10+
Investment range: $426,946-$767,369
For just more than six years, comfort food has been the name of the game for Melt Shop. The way Founder Spencer Rubin and Operating Partner Josh Morgan put it, comfort food is the food you would rather have than any other food. It’s food that reminds you of comfortable times. So, if grilled sandwiches, tater tots and milkshakes take you to your happy place, so will Melt Shop. The brand has 11 locations, seven in New York, one in Pennsylvania and one in Minneapolis at the Mall of America. The brand also has two international restaurants in Kuwait.
Earl of Sandwich
Unit count: 25+
Investment range: $336,000-$624,000
The history of Earl of Sandwich dates back to the 18th century. Yep, you read that right. The family that invented the sandwich in 1762 has more than 250 years of experience creating high-quality sandwiches with family-made recipes. It was founded by John Edward Hollister Montagu (The 11th Earl of Sandwich), his younger son John Montagu and businessman Robert Earl, who is also the founder of Planet Hollywood. Based in Orlando, Florida, the first restaurant opened in March of 2004 in Disney Springs. There is also a location in Las Vegas at Planet Hollywood. The menu features breakfast sandwiches, hand-crafted wraps and freshly tossed green salads.
Unit count: More than 25
Investment range: $99,128-$401,976
Groucho’s Deli has become a fan favorite in the Carolinas. Harold “Groucho” Miller brought his original childhood recipes to Columbia, South Carolina in 1941 with the belief that “quality is the most important ingredient in a sandwich.” With Miller’s mannerisms mirroring Groucho Marx, the nickname Groucho paved the way to a successful restaurant franchise with 33 locations. From Groucho’s early beginnings to the present day, the brand has strived to be “your neighborhood deli” by providing quality products, coveted recipes and consistent customer experience. Groucho’s launches three new units each year.
Pickleman’s Gourmet Café
Unit count: 25+
The 26-unit Midwest franchise started in the heart of America in Columbia, Missouri in 2005. Doug Stritzel brought his 16 years of franchise and restaurant industry experience to build his own unique dining concept in various college towns such as Columbia, Springfield, and St. Louis, Missouri; Lawrence, Kansas; Fayetteville, Arkansas; Lincoln, Nebraska and Norman, Oklahoma. Pickleman’s focuses on using high-quality products with distinct flavor that sets their toasted sandwiches, pizzas, soups and salads apart from the competition. The fast-casual sandwich shop also offers catering and delivery options. Strizel has plans to expand the Pickleman’s franchise to other surrounding states.