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Chris and Robin Sorensen — Firehouse Subs

Chris and Robin Sorensen were both firefighters in Florida when they came up with the idea to open a sandwich shop based on their family’s 200 year history of fighting fires. In 1994, the brothers borrowed on a credit card belonging to Robin’s in-laws and opened their first shop, decorated with fire equipment and a hand-painted mural that depicted the local fire department. They even gave their subs firefighter-inspired names like “Hook & Ladder” and “Engine Company.” Robin worked at the store while Chris continued to work part-time at the fire department.

These days both Sorensens have put their firefighting days behind them. Firehouse Subs is now a booming franchise business, with 514 corporate and franchise locations around the United States — and the numbers keep growing. The company plans to continue its expansion in the Northeast, Central and Southwest in 2012.

In 2011, Firehouse Subs raked in $284.9 million in total system sales.

Photo: Firehouse Subs