Updated: February 11, 2014 at 5:12 pm
Last year, East Coast favorite Jersey Mike's Subs entered Colorado Springs. Now, a West Coast sandwich fixture is coming to town.
Togo's, a California-based chain, plans five franchised locations in Colorado Springs over the next few years - the latest in a long line of sandwich shops to move into the Pikes Peak region.
Founded in San Jose in 1971 and with more than 325 locations open or under development, Togo's has inked a deal with Springs investor Bill Miller as its local franchisee, said Tony Gioia, chairman and CEO of Togo's Holdings LLC.
The first Togo's in Colorado Springs is targeted to open around May or June, Gioia said. Miller, meanwhile, said he's working to finalize a lease on a site for the first store and is looking at areas of the region for at least four more locations. Togo's also is looking for franchisees to develop 25 to 30 restaurants in Denver as it enters the Colorado market.
Miller is founder and managing partner of Miller Investment Management in the Springs and former chairman of Springs-based software startup XAware. Springs Fast Casual, created as the franchisee for the local Togo's shops, is principally owned by his investment management company, Miller said.
Miller said he invested in Togo's after he was approached by a longtime friend who wanted to become a Togo's operator. Miller already knew of Togo's and liked its food; he said he often ate at a Togo's across the street from his office when he worked in California's Silicon Valley during the late 1980s. Also, in talking with Gioia, Miller said he came away impressed by Togo's commitment to its franchisees.
"I think there's room in this community for another good, high-quality, quick-serve restaurant," Miller said. "I think it will do well."
The entry into Colorado Springs is part of Togo's plan to expand in Colorado, Arizona, Utah and other Western states.
Coming to the Springs "is a natural for us," Gioia said.
"Our brand travels well. A lot of California transplants left California for a number of reasons and moved to surrounding states. We get constant emails and phone calls from people in Colorado, including Denver and Colorado Springs, (who say) 'when are you coming to Colorado?'"
Competition has been heating up among sandwich chains in the Pikes Peak region.
In 2013, Jersey Mike's Subs opened locations in the Springs and Fountain. Which Wich and Firehouse Subs also have entered the local market in recent years, joining familiar national names such as Subway, Jimmy John's, Schlotzsky's and Jason's deli.
Togo's officials say the chain believes it sets itself apart by offering "big, fresh and meaty" sandwiches - hot and cold - that use fresh-baked artisan breads, hand-sliced premium pastrami, turkey and roast beef and California avocados and cheeses. Its menu includes soups and salads.
The chain also uses single sandwich makers who customize orders for customers, unlike other restaurants whose sandwiches are put together in assemblylike fashion by several employees, Gioia said. Togo's typically hires 10 to 15 employees per shop, of which three to five are full time, he said.
"You go right to a sandwich maker, and that sandwich maker hand-crafts a sandwich just for you," Gioia said. "There's a lot of interaction between you and the sandwich maker."
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