By Dennis Seid/NEMS Daily Journal
TUPELO – Firehouse Subs, the sandwich chain founded in 1994 by two firemen brothers in Jacksonville, Fla., plans to open a location in Tupelo.
Chris Stephenson, the owner and franchisee of the Oxford store, confirmed plans are being finalized to open by Jan. 1.
Stephenson has the franchise rights to north Mississippi and opened the Oxford location some 18 months ago.
“We’re deciding on a site, waiting to hear from the higher-ups,” he said, referring to city officials.
Stephenson said he hopes to have the site finalized within 30 days, which would allow a six-month window to get the restaurant open.
“If everything goes as planned, we’ll have six months to get it open, and we think that’s enough” he said.
The site Stephenson is eying is the former Dixie Oil Co. gas station on West Main Street, across from Starbucks and Wendy’s.
Firehouse Subs restaurants have a firefighter theme, which includes decor like axes, fire hoses, bunker gear and historic photos.
Stephenson said the restaurant is a cross between many restaurants including Subway, Newk’s and Lenny’s. But he said the sandwiches at Firehouse are made differently, with the meats and cheeses steamed, then placed on toasted bread.
“Then we add the lettuce, tomatoes, etc., after we put them all together,” he said.
Last year, the company went on a growth spree, adding 79 restaurants, 80 franchises and entering 13 new markets. Sales system-wide grew more than 20 percent.
Stephenson said the Tupelo store will be be a little smaller than the 2,400-square-foot Oxford location.
“We have 73 seats in Oxford, and we’re looking at 60 to 65 in Tupelo,” he said. “But we’re also looking to add outdoor seating in Tupelo, which Oxford doesn’t have.”
Stephenson is no stranger to Tupelo. His wife, the former Kada Utley, is a Tupelo native and graduated from Tupelo High School.