NASHUA — The state's first Firehouse Subs restaurant opened its doors on Monday at 341 Amherst St., and the franchise owners are already looking to open a second shop in the near future.
Bruce Stone and his daughter, Rachel, of Maynard, Mass., say they are thrilled about the new business venture.
"We have been so busy already. It was standing-room only for about five hours on Monday," said Bruce Stone. "The city of Nashua has been fantastic to deal with."
Firehouse Subs is a fast-casual restaurant chain originally founded by brothers and former firefighters Chris and Robin Sorensen. Headquartered in Florida, the restaurant currently has more than 720 sub shops throughout the nation.
Bruce Stone said he first ate a sandwich from Firehouse Subs during a previous visit to Florida, and said he was highly impressed with the quality of the food. He later attended a trade show after learning the franchise was hoping to expand into New Hampshire.
"It was at that point that I decided to retire as a firefighter and pursue this. I thought this would be fun," he said.
After having worked for the Acton, Mass., fire department for many years, the restaurant business is quite the change, Bruce Stone said.
"But we are excited, and we are ready. The opening has been fantastic," he said. "So far, the most popular sandwich has been the meatball sub."
At the new Nashua location, a hand-painted mural pays tribute to his grandfather, Bert Stone, who served 44 years before retiring as captain of the Lynn Fire Department in Massachusetts. The mural, painted by artist Joe Puskas and his team, depicts Bruce's grandfather commanding a horse-drawn steam engine heading to extinguish a blaze.
The restaurant serves popular dishes including its Hook and Ladder sub, the New York Steamer and the smokehouse beef and cheddar brisket, all of which include about a half-pound of meat.
In addition to serving hearty food, Firehouse Subs is known for its commitment to public safety organizations, and has donated millions of dollars to emergency efforts since its creation of the Firehouse Subs Public Safety Foundation in 2005.
"Many first responders make do with older equipment and have limited or no access to needed resources, but Firehouse Subs Public Safety Foundation has given $8.3 million to hometown heroes in 39 states and Puerto Rico," says a release, adding its mission is to provide funding, life-saving equipment and educational opportunities to first responders and public safety groups.
For the last two years, Franchise Business Review named Firehouse Subs number one in franchisee satisfaction, and in 2013 Firehouse Subs was ranked number one in growth by Nation's Restaurant News.
The father and daughter duo is optimistic they will have the opportunity to open a second sub shop near Main Street in the area of Southern New Hampshire Medical Center.
"We are still working out those details," Bruce Stone said on Tuesday.