The Quiznos of Tomorrow Has Arrived

QSR WEB EXCLUSIVES AUGUST 1, 2022 | BEN COLEY

Quiznos is familiar with being an industry disruptor, says Brent Phillip, vice president of marketing and digital experience for parent REGO Restaurant Group. After all, the 41-year-old company prides itself as being the home of the original toasted sub.

With that same pioneering strategy in mind, the sandwich chain is moving forward with a differentiated store prototype, the first of which popped up in Hobbs, New Mexico. Phillip describes the branding as clean, simple, and contemporary, with a local community flair. The color scheme includes a lot of black and gray, with some bright neon green and orange—honoring what Quiznos was in the past, but signaling to guests that it’s a new experience compared to previous versions they’ve visited.

“The new restaurant is really a redesigned and reimagined Quiznos, built truly to evolving consumer interest,” Phillip says. “So it is founded on extensive research that was done prior to the pandemic and through the pandemic for what should Quiznos look like and feel like in terms of consumers experience, to provide them what they’re seeking today, but also really truly ‘wow.’”

Operationally, the kitchen is completely restructured. Whereas back-of-house was previously focused on the toaster, the new design incorporates a flat top grill and deep fryer, allowing Quiznos to explore a bigger, globally inspired menu.

Some examples of sandwich innovation include the Asian Steak Dipper, the Steakhouse Philly, the Carne Supreme, and Steak and Eggs, an all-day breakfast item served with fried eggs, grilled steak, white American cheese, grilled onions and peppers, and cherry peppers. Other new options are the Steak and Frites and Cobb salads, an enhanced veggie guacamole, and Beyond Italian Sausage made with provolone, grilled peppers and onions, and marinara.

Greg Boudreaux, Quiznos brand leader and REGO’s vice president of operations, says new cooking equipment is geared toward speed of service and ensuring the brand can accommodate drive-thru, in-restaurant dining, takeout, and third-party delivery.

“That was really the first reason why we look to those pieces of equipment, and then once that opened up, it allowed us to really start to dive into what was possible that we could actually bring in from new menu items, new side items, and really drive those pieces of equipment to add value and help franchisees realize the return on investment,” Boudreaux says.

Including the latest Hobbs, New Mexico, location, Quiznos has four drive-thru restaurants in its system, but that number is set to increase under the fast casual’s renewed growth strategy. The company’s drive-thru units outperformed the entire system throughout COVID because of their ability to  keep operations going when municipalities implemented restrictions. At the Hobbs outlet, the off-premises channel mixes roughly 60 percent.

One of Quizno’s drive-thru restaurants, based at the end of a shopping center, retroactively installed its lane. Boudreaux and Phillip believe there may be similar opportunities elsewhere. There will also be chances for franchisees to relocate into spaces that better support drive-thru or re-build with the channel in mind.

“I think our take is it’s really store by store dependent. And that could even be zip code by zip code dependent, as well,” Phillip says. “There’s a lot of factors that it’s hard for us to say what percentage of the footprint is ready for or is possible to do that. I think there’s a great opportunity for a good amount, and it’ll just take time to be able to do all the diligence to really figure out for each store what can we transform to meet the consumer interest.”

In terms of branding and aesthetics, franchisees will have the option of simply updating logos and color schemes or going with the full-fledged approach of adding new equipment. The typical Quiznos restaurant is about 1,300 square feet, while the Hobbs store is about 2,000. The company anticipates future units will be substantially smaller.

“What I can share today is that we are very far along in a rather revolutionary approach to the restaurant model that will pick up on a lot of the components that are at the Hobbs restaurant that just opened, but will also contain some really cool options for considerably smaller site opportunities,” Phillip says. “Greg and I are both really excited about the opportunity for utilizing sites that others typically couldn’t because of the size of a footprint that is in development today.”

Quiznos had nearly 5,000 U.S. restaurants in the late 2000s before seeing its footprint shrink due to the Great Recession, growing competition from fast casuals, and issues with franchisee profitability. The company declared bankruptcy in 2014, and four years later, private equity firm High Bluff Capital purchased the sandwich chain. Quiznos was placed under the watch of REGO, which also oversees Taco Del Mar.

The brand had 306 U.S. outlets to start 2019, and that number has now dipped below 200. There are expectations that a handful of new locations will open this year with the new design, followed by dozens more in 2023. Phillip says Quiznos will see a “rather sharp curve” to growth in 2024 and beyond. He believes the brand can leverage its “massive” consumer awareness to enter new and existing markets across the country, no matter the geography. The idea is to sign big deals with multi-unit operators and build out areas.

Quiznos is almost entirely franchisee-owned, and Phillip says the concept will stick to that methodology as it battles for more market share and expansion opportunities in the coming years.

“I think that varies by brand for sure, but some of our reasoning is that Quiznos franchisees have always been an integral part of the brand, and they’ve especially been an integral part of the brand as it’s evolved in recent years,” Phillip says. “And we’ve just really seen the value in a responsible and cooperative support center feedback relation with franchisees.”

“So we really do see franchisees as important partners in this and needing their feedback, their learnings, their knowledge to represent a variety of markets to help drive the brand forward,” he adds. “So when you think about two things, one is brand development, and we see franchisees as a critical part of that, but we also see the restaurant economics as also reliant on entrepreneurial, inspired franchises.”

New Hickory Smoked Burnt Ends

Quiznos is introducing the Hickory Smoked Burnt Ends sandwich to its menu today, combining the favorite seasonal flavor of BBQ with premium burnt end cuts – a classic barbecue craving in the U.S. that continues to grow in popularity internationally.

The Hickory Smoked Burnt Ends sandwich is made with carefully selected prime rib cuts smoked with hickory wood chips that offer a tender, juicy and flavorful bite with crispy bark. The burnt ends are complemented by pickles, red onions, melted cheddar cheese, and topped with Blue Ribbon BBQ sauce. Guests can order the sandwich on their choice of bread, including Italian White, Whole Wheat, Jalapeno Cheddar, and Rosemary Parmesan.

“At Quiznos, we are always looking to create flavorful and unique items for our guests that they may not expect to find in our restaurants, and we are excited for them to try out this sandwich,” said Mike Gieseman, Vice President of Culinary Innovation. “We really wanted to create something reminiscent of long summer days spent outside enjoying time with friends and family, and we believe this new sandwich conveys that feeling.”

This latest limited time offer from Quiznos showcases the brilliant innovation seen in this year’s previous offers like the fan-favorite Lobster and Seafood sub and the Philly Cheesesteak, which sold out sooner than expected across the country. The Hickory Smoked Burnt Ends sandwich is now available in participating U.S. Quiznos locations starting at $8.50 while supplies last.

Quiznos Opens Redesigned Store in Hobbs, New Mexico

Known for being the first quick-service sandwich restaurant to toast its sandwiches four decades ago, Quiznos deepens its innovation heritage and pushes new boundaries with a range of new menu items created in the kitchen of its newest restaurant in Hobbs, NM which serves as the blueprint for future Quiznos.

With a comprehensive understanding of current culinary trends and what guests are seeking – exciting new flavors and memorable dining experiences – the new Quiznos restaurant in Hobbs, NM features a newly outfitted restaurant and expanded menu with global-inspired flavors. Guests can experience exciting ordering and dining options with a new drive thru, patio dining and all new flat top grills and deep fryers to support several new menu items

“We are always looking for ways to improve the dining experience for our guests and are delighted to roll out these latest updates that take that experience to the next level,” says Quiznos franchisee Dominik Mendoza, owner of CF Lifestyle Investments, LLC. “Our focus remains on providing high-quality service and delivering craveable food the brand is known for. Initial feedback on the new items underscores peoples’ appetite for creative twists on familiar classics.”

Longtime fan favorites like the Italian, Mesquite Chicken and Chicken Carbonara subs have been upgraded and are still present on the menu, now joined by an assortment of exciting newcomers. Guests can indulge in the new Asian Steak Dipper, made with grilled steak, pickled vegetables, fresh cilantro and basil, and pho dipping sauce; the Steakhouse Philly made with grilled steak, cheddar cheese, provolone, grilled mushrooms and onions with zesty grill sauce; the Carne Supreme made with meatballs, pepperoni, salami, capicola, ham, provolone, and marinara; and Steak and Eggs, a new breakfast item served all day made with fried eggs, grilled steak, white American cheese, grilled onions and peppers, and cherry peppers.

“As a brand, we are known for our innovation and it all started with being the first to integrate toasting into our menu,” says Mark Lohmann, President of REGO Restaurant Group which owns Quiznos. “We’re bringing in great new flavors and formats for our guests with the launch of these delicious new subs and vegetarian options, as well as the upgraded fan favorites. We continue to seek out more exciting flavors to add to our restaurants and provide a unique, new experience.”

Expanding its vegetarian options, Quiznos has enhanced the popular veggie guacamole and introduced the Beyond Italian Sausage made with grilled, plant based, Beyond Italian sausage, provolone, grilled peppers and onions, and marinara. New salad options include the Steak and Frites made with grilled steak, fries, chopped bacon, tomatoes, red onions, and ranch dressing, and the Cobb salad made with grilled chicken, chopped bacon, chopped egg, tomatoes, and avocado ranch dressing.

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