You’ve likely seen the signage outside the Zehrs plaza for months now, but Bradford residents won’t have to wait much longer for Firehouse Subs sandwich shop to open its doors.
The restaurant officially opens July 14.
Owner Jon Chang and wife Michelle along with their two young boys, moved to town just six months ago, after deciding to open up a Bradford franchise.
Originally from the Markham area, Chang said he and his wife Michelle thought Bradford would be a great town to start their new business, and raise their family.
He had been scouting areas for a while before deciding on Bradford.
“We looked at the community and we thought it would be great,” he said.
“I’ve been an entrepreneur my whole life,” said Change, having worked in the family textile business for years, and then eventually branching into the field of marketing and promotions.
Firehouse subs is his first venture in the food industry.
“This was the next journey that I wanted to take,” he said. “I’ve always wanted to own my own restaurant.”
He said it took him a while though to find a company that was the right fit for him and his family, and once he discovered Firehouse Subs, he knew he wanted to invest.
“I was looking for quite some time for a brand that would just resonate with me,” he explained.
Besides the high quality of the food, it was the community commitment that also drew him to the brand.
The franchise originated in Jacksonville, Florida by brothers and firemen, Chris and Robin Sorensen. The company has grown to over 1,100 locations in the United States and Canada. Ontario currently has 40 in the province, including the Bradford franchise.
The company has created the Firehouse Subs Public Safety Foundation. Their website notes that the foundation is dedicated to improving the lifesaving capabilities of first responders and public safety organizations in communities served by Firehouse Subs by providing funding, resources and support.
To date, they have raised $1M dollars for 132 communities in Canada.
“With every sale of our subs, we ask our guests if they want to roundup (to the nearest dollar,” he explained. “All of that money that’s been raised will go back to the Bradford community.”
The money is put toward grants for first responders, police, firemen and emergency services.
He said the store also sells pickle buckets, with all proceeds going to the foundation as well.
“There’s just a number of ways you can contribute, and it all goes back to the community,” he said.
Inside the shop are framed snapshots of BWG Fire Crew taken by BradfordToday freelance photographer, Paul Novosad, who donated the photos for the shop’s decor.
“It’s pretty much ready to go,” he said of the restaurant’s progress.
Chang approached the company with his idea for a Bradford franchise, and after a lengthy interview and training process, he was given the green light to open a Bradford location.
He constructed the store within three months, had hired his staff of 25 people, and had just started officially training his supervisor staff, with a grand opening set for April 2020.
But then, COVID-19 hit, and plans for the restaurant’s grand opening were put on hold.
“For the health and safety of my team and guests, it just wasn’t the right time for me,” he said.
But now, as things are slowly starting to open again, Chang is busy getting things ready inside the restaurant while his staff receives training at the Oshawa head office, in preparation for their opening on July 14.
Unfortunately, he won’t be able to host the large grand opening event he imagined, which typically includes a visit from the mayor and members of council and the Bradford Board of Trade, but is happy to just be able to have a soft opening.
“Because of the current situation, I’m not having a large grand opening party, it’s just not the right time,” he said, but hopes sometime in the future there can be more of an official grand opening celebration.
Firehouse Subs is located at 502 Holland St. West in the Zehrs plaza.