New themed sub shop gets first responders all fired up

Firehouse Subs owners Javed Qadree and Helia Goodarzi Cathy Dobson

New franchisee Helia Goodarzi says she never considered buying into any other chain once she learned about Firehouse Subs’ commitment to first responders.

“My husband is a police officer and this brand is doing so much for firefighters, police and paramedics,” she said.

“I always wanted to be an entrepreneur, and what I love is that we’re not here just to make money but also to do community work.

“It’s very rewarding,” she said.

Goodarzi, 31, previously managed a fast food franchise for four years and most recently sold real estate in Mississauga, where her husband Javed Qadree works.

Two years ago Goodarzi tried a Firehouse Subs sandwich and inquired about becoming a franchise owner.

“Our meat and cheese are sliced and steamed in-house every day. And every sandwich has a lot of meat.  They are very filling.”

Two brothers, both former firefighters, started firehouse Subs in Florida 26 years ago. Hurricane Katrina’s devastation in 2005 prompted Chris and Robin Sorensen to establish a Firehouse Subs Public Safety Foundation in the U.S.

The franchise has 1,180 locations in the States, Puerto Rico and Ontario, having entered the Canadian market in 2015.

The Sarnia store is the 39th in Ontario. In five years, the Foundation has donated more than $1 million to Canadian first responders to improve their lifesaving capabilities.

When the store opened last week Goodarzi and her husband presented Sarnia Fire Rescue with a $12, 211 cheque for new respirators.

October is First Responders Month and medallions are posted in exchange for donations.

Every fire, EMS, and police organization in Sarnia-Lambton is eligible to apply for Foundation funding.

Sarnia Fire Rescue was invited to contribute to the outlet’s decor by providing used firefighter clothing and equipment.

“Ours is one of the most unique locations because we have a wall mural of the Blue Water Bridge with Sarnia firefighter Ian Van Reenen in the foreground,” said Goodarzi.

Van Reenen holds the record time at the annual Fire Fit Championships.

Firehouse Subs specializes in 10 sub varieties, salads, and soups. The Hook & Ladder sub is the chain’s best seller and is packed with turkey, honey ham, Monterey Jack and vegetables. A medium sells for $8.99; a large is $12.59.

Sarnia’s Firehouse Subs is located at 1349 London Rd. in the former RBC bank building.  It’s been extensively renovated and has room to seat 50, although no in-restaurant dining is currently available.

Twenty-nine full and part-time employees have been hired and more will be added when dine-in is permitted again.

For now, takeout orders are taken at the counter, online or over the phone (519-541-0616).

Firehouse Subs is open 11 a.m. – 9 p.m. Sunday to Thursday; 11 a.m. – 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday.

Got a great idea for a business story?  Send it to cathy.dobson@thesarniajournal.ca.