US-Based ‘Jon Smith Subs’ Opens 1st Canadian Storefront with Plans for Cross-Country Expansion

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Florida-based sandwich shop, Jon Smith Subs, has opened its first Canadian location in Calgary with plans to significantly grow the brand across the country.

Jim Butler

The foodservice company began operations in 1988 with its first location in West Palm Beach.

Jon Smith started the company and grew it to a chain of sub shops in Palm Beach County, Florida.

“He had that until probably five, six years ago. We partnered up with him and then we took over the franchising rights outside of Palm Beach County. We’ve been franchising for only about four years. We have 25 locations that are up and operational. We have about 42 that are in development right now and we’re in five countries – UK, Canada, US, Panama and Colombia,” said Jim Butler, Brand President of Jon Smith Subs.

Image: Jon Smith Subs

“We’re in the fast casual sector. Everything is cooked to order. So you come in, you place your order at the front counter and we’re going to be actually cooking it right in front of you. You can see your order being cooked. We also are unique as far as the fries are concerned. Most sub shops they have the potato chips or things to that degree. We added fries to our menu items.

“The biggest thing is we’re a national company but we want to localize the brand so no matter where you are in the world you’re going to have your local specialty that we actually have on the menu in some capacity.”

The brand is set to open an additional 25 to 30 locations throughout Alberta in the next five years with anticipated growth into other Canadian markets beginning in 2022.

The new location in Calgary is part of a master franchise agreement with an Alberta company co-owned by local Calgary residents Gurbinder Singh, an established IT and business professional, and Amrinder Cheema, an operations practitioner. Singh and Cheema both have family history in the restaurant business and share a passion for delivering exceptional quality food and service to the community.

Image: Jon Smith Subs

“We are thrilled to be bringing Jon Smith Subs to Canada and look forward to offering the community a fresh alternative in the sandwich category with our specialty subs,” said Singh. “Our approach to every aspect of the Jon Smith Subs experience is to not only provide our guests with delicious, fresh subs, but also to create a warm and welcoming environment with a focus on excellent guest service. Our team is ready and excited to show Calgary what Jon Smith Subs is all about.”

Butler said the company recently completed its redesign and rebrand and the Calgary store is the first one in the chain with the prototype new look.

“We plan on growing of course across Canada. We’ve got a lot of activity and interest as well as domestically. We are part of a much larger organization called United Franchise Group which is a 35-year-old company and we already have our inroads into Canada with many of our brands already,” he said.

Image: Jon Smith Subs

Its affiliated family of brands include Signarama, Fully Promoted, Experimax, Jon Smith Subs, Transworld Business Advisors, Accurate Franchising, Venture X, The Great Greek Mediterranean Grill, Network Lead Exchange, Resource Operations International (ROI) and Graze Craze.

“In a five-year window I’m hoping to, in Canada alone, to be anywhere between 75 and 100 locations,” added Butler.

“The uniqueness of us is we predominantly focus on the hot subs. People like the fact that it’s cooked to order, the freshness and also the ability to localize our brand in no matter what country, especially Canada. We can give the feel that we are a local brand. Even though we’re nationalized we want people to feel we are that neighbourhood sub shop. Our tag line is love local, eat delicious.”

Article Author

Mario Toneguzzi
Mario Toneguzzi
Mario Toneguzzi, based in Calgary, has more than 40 years experience as a daily newspaper writer, columnist, and editor. He worked for 35 years at the Calgary Herald covering sports, crime, politics, health, faith, city and breaking news, and business. He is the Senior News Editor with Retail Insider in addition to working as a freelance writer and consultant in communications and media relations/training. Mario was named as a RETHINK Retail Top Retail Expert in 2024.

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