Firehouse Subs Expanding into Western Canada with Aggressive National Growth Plans [Interview]


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Firehouse Subs is expanding its presence in Canada with several restaurants scheduled to open for the first time outside of Ontario in the West in the coming weeks and into the early part of 2024. 

Mike Hancock

Mike Hancock, Firehouse Subs President, said “we will be in every province in Western Canada by roughly the end of Q1 of next year.”

“By the end of this year, we’re going to open up in Calgary, Edmonton, Winnipeg and Vancouver and then we’ll be in Saskatoon early next year.”

The American brand, which is under the Restaurant Brands International umbrella, was first founded in 1994 by two brothers who were fighters with a passion for food. Currently, there are close to 1,300 locations in the U.S. and Canada. In 2015, Firehouse Subs expanded into Canada with its first locally owned franchise restaurant in Oshawa. Since then, the brand has spread across Ontario with 63 locations. This year it opened its first location outside of North America in Zurich, Switzerland. 

“We’re going to be opening up Mexico at the end of this year and Dubai early next year,” he said.

The sandwich brand will open seven new locations across Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba and Saskatchewan through early 2024.

Image: Firehouse Subs

The new Firehouse Subs locations which will begin opening their doors to new communities include:

  • 10 D’Arcy Ranch Drive, Okotoks, AB
  • #910 1155 Cornerstone Blvd NE, Calgary, AB
  • Unit 114, 2967 Main Street S, Airdrie, AB
  • Unit 6, 645 Sterling Lyon Parkway, Winnipeg, MB
  • Unit F105, 31999 Lougheed Highway, Mission, BC
  • 8651 120th Street, Delta, BC
  • 502 Circle Road, Saskatoon, SK

Hancock said the potential is for the brand to expand to hundreds of locations in Canada eventually.

“We’re really optimistic about how far we can go in Canada. We think we can have hundreds of locations, four or five hundred locations I think is reasonable,” he said. 

“One of our sister companies has an incredible presence with (Tim Hortons), they’ve got close to 4,000 locations in Canada. We know that our brand resonates really well with Canadian guests from what we’ve seen in Ontario. We’re one of the only sandwich brands that is growing in the entire country. Several of our competitors are contracting in size. We’re one of the only players that are growing.

“We feel really confident that we can have a pretty meaningful presence there. I think similar to what we’re seeing in the U.S. as well and what’s really exciting is the bigger we get the more our (Public Safety Foundation) can do and give to local communities.”

Image: Firehouse Subs

In the first quarter of 2023, the brand launched a new app in Canada, expanding its loyalty program to Canadian guests for the first time. 

Firehouse Subs Public Safety Foundation of Canada, also founded in 2015, has awarded more than $3.2 million in lifesaving equipment to first responders and public safety organizations. 

Firehouse Subs is a restaurant chain with a passion for hearty and flavourful food, heartfelt service and public safety. 

As the brand says, “our story has some serious meat to it.”

“Growing up in a family that is both entrepreneurial and built on decades of fire and police service, it seems Chris Sorensen and Robin Sorensen were destined to start Firehouse Subs®. Of course they tried other things along the way to their American Dream – rock ’n’ roll, real estate, and even Christmas tree farming. But everything they experienced on their path led them to opening the first Firehouse Subs,” says the company.

Hancock, who was formerly COO of Tim Hortons, said historically the brand’s footprint was about 1,500 to 1,700 square feet. Today, it’s a bit smaller with restaurants in the 1,200 to 1,300 square feet range.

“The great thing about our product is we think it’s a product that can be in almost all communities throughout North America. There’s not a specific guest we’re looking for that just likes Firehouse. We do really well across different markets. The one thing that’s obviously important is we want to have a location with high foot traffic or high car traffic. We want to have easy access for us,” he said.

“The great thing is our product resonates really well with all different types of guests in all different parts of different communities. That’s one thing we found when we started our international expansion. We weren’t sure how Firehouse would travel to different parts of the world – Europe, Latin America, Asia. Unanimously across the board, our products scored exceptionally well irrespective of what region we went into which was really encouraging.”

Image: Firehouse Subs

Hancock said Firehouse believes its brand is extremely special and customers seem to feel the same way.

“When we look at most guest research, we typically rank number one in the entire industry in hot sandwiches, the taste of our hot sandwiches. So we have great flavours, generous portions. We steam our meats, our proteins, which is unique. Not many other competitors do that. It keeps a very moist flavour. It really brings out the flavours within the sandwich,” he said.

“We’re number one in guest satisfaction so operationally our amazing franchisees across both countries do an awesome job running the restaurants, being friendly to the guests, being consistent and accurate. The guest satisfaction is an extremely important piece and we’re number one in supporting our community. We’re number one in the entire industry.”

Firehouse Subs Public Safety Foundation of Canada allocates funding in four distinct areas:

  • Lifesaving equipment to benefit emergency service organizations and public safety
  • Prevention education tools for public safety and natural disaster preparedness
  • Scholarships and continued education for public safety officers
  • Natural disaster support

Since inception, Firehouse Subs Public Safety Foundation has awarded more than $73 million to hometown heroes in 50 states, plus Puerto Rico and Canada.

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.


  1. Finally! This is the best sub shop in Canada. Puts Subway to total shame and Quiznos to shame. Firehouse is awesome! Glad to see them moving west. But as for the BC locations.. Mission and Delta?? The 2 worst locations ever. Surrey/Guildford needs this badly, and perhaps Langley or Coquitlam.


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