After helping his father with his East Texas restaurants for nearly a decade, Ray Patel is gearing up to open a firefighter-inspired sandwich shop in Tyler.
He plans to open Firehouse Subs on Troup Highway next month.
Patel, 29, grew up in Dallas and graduated with a marketing degree from The University of Texas at Tyler. He has been helping his father, who owns chain restaurants in Jacksonville, for about nine years, and wanted to start his own business. He thought Firehouse Subs would be a cool concept to bring to Tyler, he said.
Firehouse Subs was started in 1992 by two brothers who were both firefighters. There are now 678 stores across the country, with 68 restaurants opening this year, Patel said.
Firehouse Subs is known for its steamed meats and cheeses, he said. The sandwiches have firefighter-themed names, such as the turkey and ham “Hook & Ladder.”
There is also the firehouse meatball, smokehouse beef and cheddar brisket, New York steamer, Italian, club on a sub, steak and cheese, the engineer and firehouse hero. The restaurant also serves chili, soups and salads.
Patel said the brisket used in the restaurants across the country comes from Sadler’s Smokehouse in Henderson, and he is proud to serve a local business’ product.
Firehouse Subs also offers more than 50 different hot sauces, which range from one to 10 on the hotness scale, Patel said.
The restaurant’s interior is designed in red and white with firefighter hats, jackets and other gear. Work continued last week on the 2,000-square-foot space that formerly housed Toppings! Yogurt Shoppe, next to Corner Bakery Café.
Patel is shooting for an opening date of Aug. 8 or Aug. 12. He said he believes the Troup Highway location will be good for business because it is a high-traffic area with a lot of hospitals and banks nearby.
Although it is next door to Corner Bakery Café, which also serves sandwiches, Patel said Corner Bakery is more of a bistro-type restaurant while his will be more casual dining. He said he thinks the two concepts will help each other.
Robert Owens, franchisee of Corner Bakery Café and co-owner of the building that Firehouse Subs is leasing, said the two restaurants have some similarities, but he believes they will play off each other. He said he had several businesses look at the small space that is perfect for Firehouse Subs.
“We’re excited to have them in there,” Owens said.
Patel said Firehouse Subs will have about 25 employees. He will be running the Tyler restaurant, which will take call-in orders and online orders.
In a year or two, Patel hopes to open more locations in south Tyler, Longview and possibly Nacogdoches, he said.
Patel said they raise money in the stores, through donations from customers, to help buy needed equipment for local fire departments.
In 2005, Firehouse Subs established its nonprofit, Firehouse Subs Public Safety Foundation with the goal to provide funding, life-saving equipment, disaster assistance and educational opportunities for first responders and public safety organizations, according towww.firehousesubs.com .
IF YOU GO
Firehouse Subs: 3304 Troup Highway
Hours: 10:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. seven days a week