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The Coast News

Great food with a charitable twist at Firehouse Subs

David Boylan

Quinn Boylan and Niall McCarter
Quinn Boylan and his mate Niall McCarter enjoying their Firehouse Subs on a recent visit from England.

Firemen have always been known for having a knack for being good in the kitchen. I learned this first hand a while back when I spent some time with the guys at Fire Station #3 in Cardiff and wrote about it in Lick the Plate. We even experienced the thrill of being able to ride along on a call that happened during the interview. It seems the entrepreneurial spirit is a common theme amongst firemen as the John Gonzales from Encinitas Fire Station #2 has shown with his Bottaro Wood Fired Pizza.

The founders of Firehouse Subs are former firefighters who have taken the entrepreneur thing to a whole new level. Firehouse Subs is a US-based fast-casual restaurant chain that specializes in delicious hot and cold subs and chopped salads. Founded in 1994 in Jacksonville, Florida by former firefighter brothers Robin and Chris Sorensen, Firehouse Subs serves sandwiches with meats and cheeses that are steamed hot and placed on a toasted sub roll. Twenty years later, with more than 800 Firehouse Subs restaurants in spread throughout the US and Puerto Rico, they must be doing a few things right. Firehouse uses the best meats, cheeses and toppings available and unlike other sub places, they steam their meats and cheeses, releasing a rush of flavors, then stuff a serving that’s way over code on one of their toasted private recipe sub rolls. It’s a winning combo that satisfies ravenous appetites and the value conscious alike.

Firehouse Subs are fairly new to North County with locations in Encinitas and Oceanside. They offer a family-oriented atmosphere, with a firefighter theme that includes fire equipment throughout the store and a menu that features sandwiches with themed names. They also offer hot sauces with a range of heat. Pictures mounted on the walls highlight local firefighting history, as well as the founders' history of firefighting service. The Encinitas location I visited had a Moonlight Beach firefighting scene that included a bonfire on the beach, a fire truck, and a fireman taking a picture with a mobile phone. Not sure what that all represented but it was a nice local touch.

My benchmark for a sub joint is how they pull off an Italian sub and Firehouse passed with flying colors. My son Quinn and his friend from England joined me on my second visit and they devoured their full sized subs and gave a big thumbs up as well. It should be noted that Firehouse does offer a nice selection of under-500 calorie subs and sandwiches including a turkey and cranberry that I have on my list to go back for.

You have heard me ramble on in the past about my love of chopped salads and I was pleased to see a few of them on the menu at Firehouse. The one I tried was loaded with romaine, tomato, bell pepper, cucumber, mozzarella, pepperoncini, Kalamata olives, salami, grilled chicken and lite Italian dressing. It’s hearty yet not too filling and filled with really nice flavor and texture combinations. Consider me a fan.

So the charitable twist I mentioned is The Firehouse Subs Public Safety Foundation, Inc., a non-profit organization, was created in 2005. It provides funding and support for local firefighters. The Encinitas Fire Department has a new thermal imaging camera, thanks to the Firehouse Subs Public Safety Foundation. The thermal imaging camera helps firefighters see though smoke and darkness so they can find unconscious victims and pinpoint dangers before they cause injury or death. The camera is valued at $12,000 and will be used at Encinitas Fire Station 6, which serves the residents of Olivenhain.

The Firehouse Subs Public Safety Foundation has donated more than $2 million to local public safety agencies. In October 2012, the Oceanside Fire Department received a computer-based simulator for incident command training. In March 2013, the Foundation provided the San Diego Fire-Rescue Department with new remote microphones to improve radio communication.

So not only is Firehouse Subs providing another delicious sub and salad option to the communities they operate in, but they are giving back as well. I’d say it’s worth supporting these folks for sure.

Find a location near you at www.firehousesubs.com

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