This annual list of the best sandwich franchises was revised and updated on January 1, 2023.
Sandwich franchises have done well in recent years, in large part due to the power of Subway. With over 20,600 outlets in the US alone, thousands more than any other chain, Subway is the largest quick service restaurant (QSR) chain in the world by number of units, the centerpiece of a QSR industry worth $300 billion in consumer sales. Even with the impact of COVID-19, the industry was worth $272 billion in 2020, still going strong in a year when many parts of the restaurant industry faced virtual collapse.
In the US, the sandwich franchise industry saw 2.6% annualized growth in its market size in the years leading up to 2020, reaching a value of $25 billion. The industry did a better job than many competitors at keeping up with consumer preferences for healthier options. This kept the sandwich franchise industry growing at a healthy clip while other fast-food segments stagnated or even declined.
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While many outlets for the big burger chains are run by investment firms, the sandwich franchising landscape has traditionally been dominated by individuals and families, thanks in large part to Subway’s lower initial fee. Subway has 10,000 franchisees, owning an average of around two restaurants each, and its competitors are often relatively small-scale organizations, having struggled to achieve Subway’s prominence.
Because they are usually sit-in and carry-out restaurants rather than drive-thrus or delivery businesses, sandwich shops were hit harder than some other takeaways by the initial wave of COVID-19. However, even at the peak of the crisis, only 15% of US Subway franchises were shut down, mostly ones in malls and college campuses, where the whole shopping area might be shut down. As takeaways, they were in a stronger position to cope with the crisis than more traditional restaurants, and largely managed to stay afloat, but didn’t do as well as more delivery-oriented outlets.
The franchised sandwich industry lost nearly a fifth of its revenues in 2020, falling to just over $20 billion. It still hasn’t recovered to its previous strength, with revenues for 2022 sitting at around $23.6 billion. Its 4.5% market growth in that year would have seemed impressive at any other time, but with some industries already back to their pre-pandemic form, it raises questions about whether sandwiches have reached their peak.
Before the pandemic, some sandwich shops were already moving slowly toward more takeaway and delivery, as they sought to increase their presence in this market. COVID-19 accelerated that trend. Whether this leads to long-term growth will depend upon how far sandwich shops can market themselves as a prime prospect when customers are going to the effort of ordering for delivery. Part of the appeal of Subway is selecting salad options in the store, and it will be harder for a company that has marketed itself on freshness to maintain that image when the customer doesn’t see the sandwich being made.
It also depends upon the industry’s success in moving into online ordering, which rose from 9% to an estimated 13% of the restaurant market in 2020, and is expected to rise as high as 21% by 2025. Companies that stay ahead of the technology that ensures smooth ordering and delivery will have a far easier time as tech-savvy millennials and post-millennials become a more powerful economic force. For people who assume that they can order online, a failure in this area will destroy a brand’s credibility and appeal.
While this market is usually talked about in terms of individual orders, Subway has made a move to strengthen its position in a different niche, through a deal with ezCater. This has led to the creation of an online catering platform, which will support large orders of Subway for parties and corporate events.
One of the big advantages of sandwich franchises is the variety they offer. Unlike a burger or a chicken meal, a sandwich can contain just about anything, and customers come looking for choice. This has made it easy to cater to demand for healthier options and specialized diets, while still providing brand-building novelties and traditional favorites. It can also protect supply chains during periods of crisis, as a sandwich outlet sells a broad mix of proteins such as ham, turkey, tuna, and cheese as the central flavor and nutrient in its meals, and so is less likely to struggle if supplies of one filling are disrupted. But the current widespread disruption of global supply chains, and the associated economic downturn, will test the limits of chains that rely on food from all over the world.
The sandwich industry is a site of both uncertainty and potential, due to continuing problems with its biggest player. Subway has often been the source of controversy. It came under criticism from franchisees both for its handling of the COVID-19 crisis and for introducing an offer which would significantly cut into the profits of hard-pressed franchisees. The company’s management of franchises has faced serious criticism, in particular for its system of regional management, which led to 29 litigation actions per 1,000 stores in 2018, massively more than other high-profile food franchises.
All of these factors may have contributed to the sandwich giant’s decline. It was already down to around 24,000 restaurants before the pandemic, from a peak of 27,000 in 2015, and is now at 20,600.
Subway is trying to turn this around with a new business strategy which will have serious impacts on franchisees. The company is encouraging larger scale franchisees who would seek to own and manage multiple outlets, instead of the small scale owners it used to rely upon. These larger franchisees will be encouraged to buy up existing franchises of small-scale owners before looking to create new outlets. A revised menu and a focus on customer experience are meant to add to the brand’s appeal. It seems that Subway is going on the defensive, looking for ways to make its existing restaurants more efficient by changing their offerings and ownership structures, before it tries to expand again. This may make it more difficult for new franchisees to get involved in the next few years.
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Without any reduction in demand for sandwiches, Subway’s struggles may provide an opportunity for other sandwich franchises to fill the gap. A variety of other sandwich chains are among the quick service restaurants currently expanding their reach as the economy recovers from the pandemic. This is a sector which could become more diverse in the next few years, unless Subway’s new strategy proves a dramatic success.
In the longer term, the industry’s relatively slim margins make it vulnerable to shifts in the costs of foods, as well as to consumer spending. Calls for more support for US farmers have not yet turned into a willingness by business to pay higher prices and to pass these prices on to consumers. If anything, food prices look set to keep rising, as inputs such as energy become more expensive. That will make sandwiches more costly, and so less of a bargain, even as the economic slowdown squeezes people’s wallets. Consumer spending has a big impact on the sandwich sector, and discretionary spending looks set to decline.
As a cheap and easy fast food option, sandwiches were expected to do well in an economic downturn, but the industry’s performance in 2020 showed that it was more vulnerable than some competitors. Given the dominance of Subway, it’s hard to tell how far this is a problem baked into the industry, as opposed to a problem with one brand.
The variety that sandwiches offer could potentially cater to the demands of the modern market, if other issues can be overcome. A shift toward delivery and takeaway is needed in the current climate, but the real question for the industry is what’s next for Subway. Other sandwich franchises have struggled to achieve prominence in competition with it. Is that about to end, or will Subway come back stronger than ever? Variety and value for money should make sandwiches a solid option for a fast food franchise, but with rising food prices and an economic downturn, things look uncertain for a sector that, against expectations, still hasn’t recovered from the pandemic.
The Top Sandwich Franchises of 2023
Subway is the undisputed king of sandwich chains in terms of number of locations, and yet it ranks a surprisingly distant third in terms of sales ($10.4 billion compared to McDonald’s at $38.5 billion and Starbucks at $19.7 billion). And it’s still a privately-held company.
Fred DeLuca started the company to fund his medical school education, but he ended up sticking with his very lucrative sub concept. In 2018, the chain saw revenues drop by almost half a billion dollars, and it closed more than 1,000 locations in the US. But it’s currently remodeling stores through its Fresh Forward design initiative, and those retrofitted locations are pulling in more traffic and higher gross revenues.
Founded in 1965 and franchising since 1974, the number of locations reached a high of 44,830 in 2016 but has since declined to the last reported total of 41,600 in 2019, none of which were company-owned and 17,471 of which were located outside the US. Other sources have revealed that on the domestic front, Subway’s peak number of locations in the US was back in 2016 at 27,169 and although at the end of 2021 this number had shrunk to 21,147, Subway is still the biggest fast-food chain in the country.
Arby’s isn’t buying into the plant-based meat craze that is supposedly sweeping the nation. In fact, it poked fun at the idea by coming up with a meat-based vegetable creation it calls a marrot, which is turkey prepared in a way that it looks like a carrot.
Arby’s has experienced a resurgence in recent years under the leadership of CEO Rob Lynch and his highly successful “We have the meats” campaign. But Lynch recently left the company to become the new CEO of the Papa John’s pizza chain. Chief Marketing Officer Jim Taylor has been promoted to the Arby’s CEO position to keep the chain’s new-found momentum going.
Founded in 1964 and franchising since 1965, the number of locations was declining from 2010-2016, but has since been on the rise and currently stands at a total of 3,561 (up from the previously reported total of 3,540), of which 1,116 are company-owned and 154 are located outside the US.
3. Jimmy John’s
Jimmy John’s has gotten a lot of media attention lately, and not all of it good. On the good side, the chain ran a sweepstakes contest in which the winner would receive a free house within five minutes of one of its restaurants, which delineates its delivery zone. On the not-so-good side is an old photograph of the chain’s founder Jimmy John Liautaud with an elephant he killed, along with photos of him with his other big-game kills. The photos and calls for boycotts periodically resurface and make the rounds on social media, but the chain keeps plugging away, and quite successfully at that.
The company has been around since the early 1980s and does things a bit differently – no oven-baked hot sandwiches and only one cheese (provolone). But JJ’s delivers, which is rare among sandwich chains, and does so freakishly fast. The chain’s quirky, irreverent ad messaging is a big hit with the college-age crowd.
Founded in 1983 and franchising since 1993, the number of locations has declined in recent years from a high of 2,818 in 2019 to the current total of 2,657 (down from the previously reported total of 2,736), of which 41 are company-owned and all are located in the US.
4. Jersey Mike’s Subs
Jersey Mike’s Subs is also receiving a lot of media attention, and for all the right reasons. After weeding through the constant stream of stories about new locations opening all over the place, they’re also doing lots of great, creative promotions. These recently included its first-ever 14-week, 16-stop college tailgate mobile tour with free sub samples as well as a free regular sub offer for first-time orders through its newly-improved mobile app.
Any sub on the menu can be ordered Mike’s Way: onions, lettuce, tomatoes, spices (salt and oregano), and the Juice (a mixture of red wine vinegar and olive oil). The menu includes 28 hot and cold subs along with five signature wraps.
Founded in 1956 and franchising since 1987, the number of locations has rocketed up over the past 10 years from 584 in 2012 to the current total of 2,253 (up from the previously reported total of 1,973), of which 24 are company-owned and three are located outside the US.
5. Firehouse Subs
Firehouse Subs has become well known for its donations to local fire departments and other first responders all over the nation. A portion of every sale the chain makes goes to the Firehouse Subs Public Safety Foundation to support first responders in the communities where the chain has a presence. The foundation has granted more than $44 million to provide equipment, training, and support to hometown heroes.
Founded by former firefighting brothers Robin and Chris Sorensen in Jacksonville, Florida, the chain’s restaurants feature a firefighting theme on the menu with hot and cold sub names such as Hook & Ladder and Engineer, as well as in-store décor featuring firefighting equipment, memorabilia, and artwork.
Founded in 1994 and franchising since 1995, the number of locations has increased rapidly over the past decade from 520 in 2012 to the current total of 1,221 (up from the previously reported total of 1,201), of which 39 are company-owned and 51 are located outside the US.
6. Charleys Philly Steaks
Charleys Philly Steaks has found success through annual limited-time offers to keep its menu fresh and exciting for customers. Recent features have included the Prime Jalapeño Steak-Q (2019), the Zesty Baja Chicken Philly (2018), and the Triple Bacon Steak Philly (2017).
When founder Charley Shin took a wrong turn on the way to New York City and wound up in Philadelphia, he tasted his first Philly cheesesteak sandwich and knew he wanted to make the venerable sandwich his vocation, opening his first shop when he was only 22. The menu now includes four signature Philly-style steak subs, four chicken subs, four deli subs, three kinds of gourmet fries, and three salads.
Founded in 1986 and franchising since 1991, the number of locations has been marching steadily up over the past decade from 463 in 2012 to the current total of 710 (up from the previously reported total of 643), of which 55 are company-owned and 81 are located outside the US.
7. Pita Pit
Pita Pit is taking its successful sandwich franchising techniques into the Canadian cannabis industry through a partnership with federally-licensed producer and distributor WeedMD to help people open and operate their own retail cannabis stores. But the core business of selling pita sandwiches remains the primary focus of the chain founded by Nelson Lang and John Sotiriadis in Kingston, Ontario, back in the mid-1990s.
Their Lebanese-style pita sandwiches offer a healthier alternative relative to most fast food and are filled with fresh veggies, grilled meats, and zesty sauces. Many of the shops stay open late into the night/morning, which appeals to university students. With 20 pita fillings and 40 toppings to mix and match, millions of combinations are possible.
Founded in 1995 and franchising since 1997, the number of locations peaked at 628 in 2017 and has since declined to the current total of 540, of which four are company-owned and 384 are located outside the US.
8. McAlister’s Deli
McAlister’s Deli recently underwent its biggest evolution to date, which is significant considering its humble beginnings in Oxford, Mississippi, back in the late 1980s with its first location in a renovated gas station. The new restaurant design features an overall smaller interior, but expanded patio seating for locations that want it, along with drive-up window for pickup orders.
It takes a southern-hospitality approach to its atmosphere, has seasonal menu items, is incredibly kid-friendly, and makes a big deal of its sweet tea with an annual Free Tea Day each summer. In fact, its famous sweet tea is its best-selling item and accounts for more than 10% of all the company’s sales. It can also now be ordered in 5-gallon and 15-gallon kegs for special events.
Founded in 1989 and franchising since 1994, the number of locations has risen in recent years from 312 in 2012 to the current total of 516 (up from the previously reported total of 491), of which 44 are company-owned and all are located in the US.
9. Potbelly Sandwich Shop
Potbelly Sandwich Shop strives to be known as the go-to “neighborhood sandwich shop” in each community where it has a presence. The menu focuses on simple ingredients in its toasty warm sandwiches, salads, soups, fresh baked cookies, and hand-dipped milkshakes and smoothies.
The company got its start in the mid-1970s when Peter Hastings took over a Chicago space that was previously an antique shop. The décor of the first location used many items from the antique store, including a potbelly stove that gave the sandwich shop its name. Bryant Keil purchased the restaurant in 1997 and began expanding it into a chain. Potbelly does most of its business during lunch, and many locations also feature live music from local musicians.
Founded in 1977 and franchising since 2009, the number of locations has declined in recent years from a high of 491 in 2018 to the current total of 443 (down slightly from the previously reported total of 491), of which 397 are company-owned and all are located in the US.
Schlotzsky’s just upgraded its c-suite executive cred by naming Beto Guajardo, previously the SVP of Global Strategy for Starbucks, as the chain’s new President. He’s taking over from Kelly Roddy, who left to become CEO of Saladworks. The sandwich chain is in the midst of a big brand refresh, and Guajardo’s deep strategic expertise should prove valuable.
The refresh includes changing the name to Schlotzsky’s Austin Eatery, a nod to the place of its founding. The Original remains its most famous sandwich, but new additions will include making tacos and nachos to order. The menu also includes fresh-baked breads, artisan flatbreads, specialty pizzas, toasted wraps, freshly-tossed salads, gourmet soups, and more. Many locations also feature Cinnabon and Carvel ice cream products since the chain is owned by FOCUS Brands, an affiliate of Roark Capital Group, which owns a number of restaurant chains.
Founded in 1971 and franchising since 1976, the number of locations reached a high of 372 in 2018 and has since declined to the current total of 323 (down from the previously reported total of 328), of which 25 are company-owned and all are located in the US.
11. Penn Station East Coast Subs
Penn Station East Coast Subs, like many restaurant franchises in a very tight labor market, is doing everything it can to attract and retain quality workers. It focuses on finding people who want to climb the company ladder from the beginning and has created what it calls the My Penn Path – a way for franchisees to show candidates that there is a clear path for them to advance if they join the company. Their recruiting process helps them identify standout hires who can be put on a fast-pace promotional track.
Company founder Jeff Osterfeld, after successfully operating a delicatessen, discovered the Philly cheesesteak concept and opened the first Penn Station in Cincinnati. His innovations back in the mid-1980s included “display cooking” where customers could see their food being prepared, fresh-cut French fries, and hand-squeezed lemonade. The menu includes four classic subs, three chicken subs, and three Italian subs that can be served hot or cold.
Founded in 1985 and franchising since 1987, the number of locations had fallen to 304 in 2020 but has since bounced back to a new high of 315 (up from the previously reported total of 313), of which only one is company-owned and all are located in the US.
12. Which Wich Superior Sandwiches
Which Wich Superior Sandwiches is aimed squarely at a more Millennial hipster market than most sandwich chains. Its founder and CEO, Jeff Sinelli, is also called the Chief Vibe Officer. The Dallas-based chain also recently added crinkle-cut French Fries to its menu. When asked why, Sinelli responded with a question of his own: “Fry not?”
The company is a newcomer compared to most sandwich franchises, and has taken a novel approach with its ordering system. Customers use red Sharpies to mark pre-printed menus on sandwich bags, selecting from among 10 categories of sandwiches, then choosing the bread, cheese, spreads, and toppings. Patrons are encouraged to use the red markers to decorate their bags and hang them in a gallery area in the shop.
Founded in 2003 and franchising since 2004, the number of locations expanded steadily from 179 in 2012 to a peak of 467 in 2018 but has since declined to the current total of 259 (down from the previously reported total of 300), of which only one is company-owned and 11 are located outside the US.
Togo’s recently undertook a major brand refresh including a revamped logo, a new slogan (“True to the Sandwich”), and a new menu item called the Pretzelrami – more than a quarter pound of pastrami on a toasted soft pretzel roll with two slices of white cheddar cheese, yellow mustard, and dill pickles. Its new marketing campaign to go with the brand refresh is “How Far Would You Go for a Togo?”
The core menu features 19 subs, six salads, four veggie sandwiches, and a selection of soups that changes daily. Any sub can be ordered without bread and served up as a salad with romaine lettuce or in a tortilla wrap.
Founded in 1971 and franchising since 1977, the number of locations has been declining in recent years from 251 in 2014 to the last reported total of 184 in 2020 (down from the previously reported total of 199), of which six were company-owned and all were located in the US.
Capriotti’s geared up for the latest football season by offering those who order catering (trays of assorted sandwiches) online or through the company’s CAPAddicts Rewards App, access to special “score-worthy” deals throughout the season.
The chain distinguished itself from other sandwich shops early on with its in-store slow-roasting of whole, fresh, all-natural turkeys overnight to hand-pull fresh turkey meat each morning for sandwiches. The menu features 17 different subs, two sandwiches made with sliced bread, and six different salads.
Founded in 1976 and franchising since 1991, the number of locations has been up and down a lot in recent years but recently shot up to 141 (up from the previously reported total of 124), of which 13 are company-owned and all are located in the US.
PrimoHoagies launched its Italian Hoagie potato chips in 2019, flavored to evoke the memory of its namesake sandwich beloved by many. The chips are available at all store locations as well as in some supermarkets and convenience stores in the greater Philadelphia area.
The first PrimoHoagies was opened on Ritner Street in south Philadelphia when it seemed like there was a hoagie shop on every corner. PrimoHoagies distinguished itself by focusing on the sandwich’s Italian origins, and the chain’s Italian Hoagie is its best-selling sandwich. But the chain has something for everyone with its 59 different hoagies.
Founded in 1992 and franchising since 2002, after falling to 71 locations in 2020, the number of locations has since risen rapidly to the current total of 101 (up from the previously reported total of 84), of which none are company-owned and all are located in the US.
16. Cousins Subs
Cousins Subs CEO Christine Specht took the reins of the Wisconsin-based chain of sub shops, founded by her father and his cousin, in 2015. She leads the company based on four simple values of being grounded, optimistic, passionate, and purposeful. Speaking of being grounded, she keeps it real by regularly working a shift as a cashier to see first-hand what’s happening in her stores.
The menu features eight different grilled-to-order subs, six classic subs, five deli fresh subs, salads, sides, soups, two-footer party subs, and party boxes with 12 or 20 assorted subs.
Founded in 1972 and franchising since 1985, the number of locations has mostly been declining in recent years from 137 in 2012 to the current total of 94 (down from the previously reported total of 95), of which 44 are company-owned and all are located in the US.
17. Erbert & Gerbert’s Sandwich Shops
Erbert & Gerbert’s Sandwich Shops recently launched a free mobile rewards app to give customers a robust rewards system that will send them exclusive promotions and offer free items. It’s just one point of a multi-layered branding overhaul that includes a new store prototype, new logo, new slogan (“Out of This World Sandwiches”), and a new radio and TV campaign called “Bold Between the Breads.”
Many of the subs on the menu have odd names such as Narmer, Bornk, Girf, Comet Morehouse, and Quatro because they are all characters from the stories the founder’s father used to tell his children when they were little. In addition to subs, the chain’s menu also features nine different soups for the soup-and-sandwich effect.
Founded in 1987 and franchising since 1992, after peaking at 97 in 2018, the number of locations has since declined to the current total of 75 (down from the previously reported total of 76), of which three are company-owned and all are located in the US.
18. Lennys Grill and Subs
Lennys Grill and Subs was started by Len Moore, who had more than 25 years of experience in all kinds of restaurants before he and his wife Sheila opened the first location in Memphis, Tennessee. They only wanted one location to help pay for their daughter’s college education, but the demand was so strong they soon opened five more. After opening 20 locations, franchising was the next logical step. The menu features Philly-style submarine sandwiches with 10 deli subs and 12 grilled subs.
Founded in 1998 and franchising since 2001, in spite of a major brand and store design overhaul, the number of locations has been steadily declining from 152 in 2012 to the current total of 65 (down from the previously reported total of 69), of which five are company-owned and all are located in the US.
19. Goodcents Deli Fresh Subs
Goodcents Deli Fresh Subs was the brainchild of serial entrepreneur Joseph Bisogno in the late 1980s, after having previously run a lemonade stand when he was six years old, purchased an ice cream truck when he was 18, and a gas station later on as well. This is a chain of dine-in, drive-thru, carry-out, and delivery restaurants with a menu featuring 17 different submarine sandwiches, five pasta dishes, and three different giant soft-baked cookies.
Founded in 1989 and franchising since 1991, the number of locations has been slowly declining from 83 in 2013 to the current total of 64, of which none are company-owned and all are located in the US.
20. Tubby’s Sub Shop
Tubby’s Sub Shop has been around since the late 1960s when founder Richard Paganes opened the first location in St. Clair Shores, Michigan. The menu features 16 different grilled subs, five deli-style subs, five specialty subs, nine salads, monster party subs, and party sub platters.
In 2015, Tubby’s bought the failing Just Baked cupcake franchise and added the dessert offering to its menu in 2017. All new Tubby’s locations will be co-branded with Just Baked, and Tubby’s is considering expanding the number of standalone Just Baked stores, which had dwindled to just four franchised locations back in 2015 after attempting to expand too rapidly.
Founded in 1968 and franchising since 1978, the number of locations has been relatively steady in recent years and currently stands at 56 (up from the previously reported total of 55), of which none are company-owned and all are located in the US.
21. Deli Delicious
Deli Delicious offers hungry customers a menu of made-to-order cold sandwiches, hot sandwiches, specialty sandwiches, salads, soups, and sides. In Fresno, California where it started, it won the People’s Choice Award for Best Sandwich shop for nine years in a row. The chain prides itself on friendly service, fresh produce, premium deli meats, and high-quality bread. Like many of the delis on this list, it offers catering as well as fundraising opportunities for schools, teams, clubs, and other groups.
Founded in Fresno, California in 1996 but franchising only since 2008, the number of locations has grown from 11 in 2011 to the last reported total of 53 in 2019 (up from the previously reported total of 51), of which none were company-owned and all were located in the US.
22. Great Steak
Great Steak (formerly The Great Steak and Potato Company) has been serving up cheesesteak subs and potato dishes since the early 1980s when it was started in Dayton, Ohio by founder Nicola J. Lanni. This is a true meat-and-potatoes operation featuring four cheesesteaks, four chicken Philly subs, seven different grilled sandwiches, six kinds of French fries, five different baked potatoes, potato skins, and four breakfast sandwiches. Great Steak is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Kahala Brands, which operates 18 different restaurant chains.
Founded in 1985 and franchising since 1986, the number of locations has declined over the past 10 years from 135 in 2012 to the last reported total of 50 in 2020 (down from the previously reported total of 58), of which none were company-owned and 11 were located outside the US.
23. CHēBA Hut
CHēBA Hut (pronounced cheeba) is one sandwich chain poised to take advantage of the growing legal cannabis culture. The pronunciation of the chain’s name approximates the Spanish Chiba, a slang term for highly potent Colombian marijuana. The core menu features 26 “toasted” subs that are all named for different kinds of marijuana. The company mascot is a bird named Flip who is always smoking a joint. The vibe is strongly anti-establishment and anti-corporate.
Founded by Scott Jennings in Tempe, Arizona in 1998 and franchising since 2002, the number of locations has been growing over the past decade from 14 in 2012 to the current total of 50 (up from the previously reported total of 42), of which one is company-owned and all are located in the US.
24. Groucho’s Deli
Groucho’s Deli dates back to the early 1940s when Harold “Groucho” Miller came to Columbia, South Carolina with a handful of original recipes for potato salad, coleslaw, and various salad and sandwich dressings, most of which were thought up during his childhood in a Philadelphia orphanage. He also had a big personality, always joking, and he not only looked like Groucho Marx with his big moustache and cigar but he even sounded like Groucho Marx.
He innovated with Dipper Style Subs in the 1960s with his original sauces, like Formula 45 developed back in 1945. Dipper Subs are still on the menu today, along with a variety of other subs, sandwiches, folded pitas, 19 different signature salads, seven famous dressings, deli sandwiches, original recipe sandwiches, BLT Clubs, healthy options, soups, sides, and desserts.
Founded in 1941 but franchising only since 2001, the number of locations had marched slowly but steadily upwards to a peak of 34 in 2018 and 2019 but has since declined slightly to the current total of 31 (no change from the previously reported total), of which two are company-owned and all are located in the US.
25. Tom and Chee
Tom and Chee is for everyone who loves the classic grilled cheese sandwich paired up with tomato soup. The company was started by friends Trew Quackenbush and Corey Ward along with their wives Jenn and Jenny in Cincinnati, Ohio. After a year in a tent, they were able to open a real store and people were willing to wait in line well over an hour for creative offerings such as the grilled cheese donut: A donut sliced like a bagel and grilled with your choice of cheese or many other interesting toppings.
Although the company received a boost by landing a $600,000 investment during season 4 of Shark Tank from Barbara Corcoran and Mark Cuban, it’s struggling to find its footing in spite of having a great concept. Founded in 2009 and franchising since 2012, the number of locations was as high as 35 in 2015 but has since plummeted to the current total of just 8 (down from the previously reported total of 9), of which one is company-owned and all are located in the US.
An Important Note About Our Methodology
The franchises on this list were ranked according to the number of units in the franchise system. If you are a prospective franchisee searching for franchise opportunities that meet or exceed certain performance benchmarks for sales, profits, and return on investment, please check out this list of America’s Most Lucrative Franchises.
Their used to be a sandwich shop in San Jose California back in the early to mid seventies named Mike’s Hero’s. It was located on Winchester Blvd just down the street from the infamous Winchester Mystery House. Anyway Togos was a force to be reckoned with back then and they were fairly new as well but the lines at Togos were long at all times back then. While Togos was getting all the attention, Mike’s Hero’s had modest crowds. Since they were the least crowded and closer to our house our family would head over to Mike’s Hero’s. I will say this. The sandwiches that they prepared were far batter than any sandwich I’ve had at any sandwich place. As much as I love Togos, Mikes Heros was the only place I went for sandwiches. The bread they used was the best bread ever used in a sandwich. The bread which was actually a roll like they use at Subway, but ten times better, had sesame seeds. Unfortunately they went out of business around 1976, so Togos was now our go to place for sandwiches, but I still crave a Mike’s Hero Sandwich. I have been to dozens of sandwich shops trying to find a place that comes close to Mike’s but to no avail. I will continue my search, and if anyone remembers Mike’s Hero’s on Winchester Blvd in San Jose, Ca reply and tell me about your experience with these amazing sandwiches.
Tom Ricci says
I loved Mikes. There was one on Bird Avenue in San Jose. Their menu and decor was based on colonial America
Like you I, I have craved Mike’s Hero sandwiches for decades. The sesame seed bread was delicious. The George Washington (with salami) was topped with oil and vinegar. Absolutely delicious.
One afternoon, I was in Mike’s Hero sandwiches in Cupertino and across from me was actor, Billy Sands, who played Papparelli on McHale’s Navy.
The loss of a wonderful sandwich spot.
There is also Sandella’s who have over 130 worldwide from the US, Malta, UAE and are now expanding into Australia as well. They began back in 1994 and while some stores are still company owned, many of the stores are now being offered as franchised offerings.
Keith Cornelius says
There is a place in Westerville, Ohio it is called Yogis Hogies they have the best subs ever. They are family owned and they have two stores and one with a dairy bar in New Albany. I highly recommend you wont be disappointed