A Brief History of Quizno’s Subs

By | February 10, 2020

Quizno’s Sub humbly began at one solitary location on the corner of 13th and Grant in Denver, Colorado’s busy Capital Hill neighborhood in 1981. Approximately six years later in 1987 after eavesdropping on a remark by a customer, entrepreneur Rick Schaden opened the first franchise in nearby Boulder, Colorado. After four years of enjoying wild popularity with his small business investment, Schaden along with his father purchased the entire franchise operation in 1991 (Wikipedia, n.d.). The Schadens were adamantly resolved to live up to their newly adopted corporate mission statement:

“To be the leader in quick service restaurants by serving the best sandwiches and products in and around sandwiches in the marketplace… One successful restaurant and one successful wowed customer at a time.” (Quizno’s, n.d.)

By the mid 1990’s, the Schadens’ business tenacity was beginning to pay off. Business magazines were praising the uniquely innovative restaurant concept that was Quizno’s Sub. Although Quizno’s Sub did not invent the toasted sub, they widely popularized the concept through their advertising. By offering customers the unique crisp flavor of a warm freshly toasted sub, the taste of the sub is enhanced and the quality of the ingredients are much more pronounced. Their slogan “Mmmm… Toasty!” aptly and succinctly captures the essence of this perceived experience. Quizno’s Sub does not spend an inordinate amount of time on their signature characteristic. A customer places an order with an employee and the main ingredients are added atop the bread. The open-faced sub followed along by its top is then placed on and carried down a conveyor belt inside a toaster for roughly 30 seconds. The customer then follows his or her sub along to the next station where additional toppings can be added before the sandwich is wrapped and given to the customer. The simple but effective Quizno’s Sub concept has proven so popular that archrival Subway recently added the option of letting customers choose to order their subs toasted in 2004. Likewise, Boston Market added toasted subs to its menu in 2005 and Blimpie most recently followed suit in 2006 (Wikipedia, n.d.).

In addition, while most competitors in the quick service restaurant industry attempt to differentiate solely based upon the three dimensions of cleanliness, quality and service, Quizno’s Sub can instead attribute its success based upon offering customers quality products from their menu. Conventional submarine sandwich restaurants traditionally offer ordinary menus featuring uninspiring BLT’s, Cheesesteaks and Tuna Subs. Quizno’s Sub instead offers a wide array of mouth-watering signature choices such as the Chicken Carbonara, Spicy Monterey Club and Turkey Bacon Guacamole. Quizno’s Sub achieves an outstanding improvement in flavor versus similar restaurants based upon the exclusiveness of their ingredients. Rather than using generic ingredients for use on each and every one of their subs, Quizno’s Sub instead uses menu-specific items solely for some menu items that are excluded from others. As a case in point, their Chicken Carbonara uses diced bacon pieces while their Double Bacon BLT uses whole bacon strips to enhance the specific characteristic flavor of the menu selection. Yet Quizno’s Sub does not solely limit its menu to submarine sandwiches. Additional menu items include Craveable Salads, Fresh Soups, Lite Selections, Drinks, Desserts and Sides, Kidz Options, and newly added Toasted Gourmet Bread Bowls.

Within 5 years of their corporate purchase, the Schadens saw Quizno’s Sub grow to 100 locations in 1996. Though still not yet renowned on a national basis, through a demonstrated steady increase in brand awareness and name recognition synonymous with quality, the company quickly expanded to 1,000 franchise locations by the end of the decade in 2000. The Schadens soon began receiving national acclaim for their amazingly rapid triumph in the competitive quick service restaurant industry and for the future growth potential of the Quizno’s Sub franchise. Quizno’s Sub rapidly expanded within 3 years, opening the 2,000th location in 2003. Although still a fraction of the total number of Subways, as of 2005 Quizno’s Subs has surpassed Blimpie’s as the second largest submarine sandwich chain in North America. Nearly all of the locations are owned by individual franchisees with only 2 corporate-owned locations. Currently, there are over 4,000 Quizno’s Sub locations in the U.S., over 300 locations in Canada, and 100 additional locations spread across 13 countries including Australia, Cayman Islands, Guam, Iceland, Ireland, Japan, New Zealand, Panama, Puerto Rico, South Korea, Turkey, and the U.K. (Wikipedia, n.d.). According to Quizno’s Sub, the franchise has become so prolific that a new franchise is opened every 9 hours (Quizno’s, n.d.). Quizno’s Sub has steadily ascended Entrepreneur Magazine’s Franchise 500 rankings to become the third most popular franchise in the world, following second place Curves for Women and first place Subway. Quizno’s Sub is also ranked first for the 5th year in a row as the top restaurant franchise in Nation’s Restaurant News Top 100.

Most recently, the company set its sights on battling head-on its arch nemesis, Subway. Their latest salvo aimed directly at Subway was fired on September 18, 2006 called “The Prime Rib Cheesesteak Challenge.” Quizno’s Sub’s assertive advertising campaign boasts that their cheesesteak features twice as much meat as Subway’s cheesesteak. Customers are eligible for a free sandwich coupon if they purchase a Prime Rib Cheesesteak and are not completely satisfied with their purchase (Wikipedia, n.d.).