A new Vancouver Quiznos location comes with tweaked logo, altered corporate colours and additional kitchen equipment that enables it to have an expanded menu compared to the approximately 500 other Quiznos stores worldwide.
The Denver-based sandwich chain has one other redesigned prototype store, in Hobbs, New Mexico, said Mark Lohmann, president of REGO Restaurant Group, which owns Quiznos.
“The intent with both of these first two prototypes is to learn what works and what doesn’t work because we don't want franchisees to invest in something that doesn't make sense for them,” he told BIV.
New flat-top grills enable the prototype Quiznos locations to offer a range of Philly cheesesteak sandwiches.
The store's Quiznos logo is lime green, instead of olive green and red, which is the case at other Vancouver locations.
Quiznos has long looked to Vancouver as a key market.
Alvin Blais and Chris Moradian opened the chain’s first international location, in 1996, on West Broadway at Heather Street. That duo then bought Quiznos’ Canadian master-franchise rights in January 1998, and ambitiously aimed to operate 650 locations Canada-wide by 2008.
They sold those master franchise rights to partners in 2001, with the rights later reverting back to the U.S. parent company.
Blais told BIV in 2014 that by 2001, he had built the chain to 138 stores in Canada, including 82 in B.C., with more 300 restaurants in development.
All Canadian Quiznos locations are now directly franchised out of Denver.
Quiznos enjoyed phenomenal expansion in the early part of this century, before enduring some stumbles.
(Image: The flat-top grill in the background is where the meat for Philly cheesesteak sandwiches can be prepared | Chung Chow)
In 2009, for example, it agreed to pay a US$95 million out-of-court settlement to 6,900 franchisees in a class-action lawsuit that alleged that the company overcharged franchisees for supplies and failed to provide sufficient marketing support.
A range of factors prompted the company to shrink to fewer than 400 U.S. restaurants in 2017, from around 4,700 locations in 2007.
That time period included the company filing for bankruptcy protection in 2014, when it was more than US$500 million in debt.
Private equity firm High Bluff Capital spent undisclosed sums to buy Quiznos and Taco Del Mar in separate 2018 transactions, and rolled those companies into its new REGO Restaurant Group. High Bluff Capital then bought Church’s Chicken, said Lohmann, who was in Vancouver last week to hold a launch event at the SE Marine Drive Quiznos.
On hand were South Korean master franchisees who plan to soon open their 100th location in that country, said Lohmann.
“We’re in 20-plus countries globally,” he said. “There are roughly 300 Quiznos in North America.”
All Quiznos locations are franchised except for one corporately owned store, at Denver International Airport, he said.