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Wisconsin-based Cousins Subs to open 40 stores in Chicago

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MILWAUKEE — Since it was founded in 1972, Cousins Subs has grown from a single restaurant to 100 restaurants throughout Wisconsin. Now, the sandwich franchise announced on Monday, Aug. 6 they are kicking off a large-scale expansion plan in Illinois, starting with developing 40 restaurants throughout the Chicago area over the next several years.

Cousins Subs’ development strategy began when one of the founder’s daughter, Christine Specht, took over as the franchise’s president and CEO after serving as its president and COO. In the release, Specht said the brand recognition and consumer goodwill that had carefully been established throughout the Midwest has provided the opportunity for the expansion.

“We know in our hearts that now is the time for major growth, and we are peeling back the layers of the onion and asking ourselves honestly, ‘what do we need to do to grow this brand?’” Christine said.

“This is a brand that was built in the Midwest by Midwesterners,” Cousins Subs Vice President of Development Joe Ferguson said. “Our customers may not be aware of that, but I think they can sense the authenticity. We’re about high-quality, hearty, food served at reasonable prices, and that’s something that’s always going to appeal to folks around here.”

Ferguson said he sees a great opportunity in Illinois, where until recently, the franchise had no presence.

“We are extremely excited about Illinois,” Ferguson said. “There are so many markets in the state that are perfectly primed for our opportunity. We’ve seen just how successful our restaurants are in neighboring markets, and we’ve seen consumer demand for Cousins Subs creep from those markets into Illinois. Now we’re going to fulfill that demand.”

According to the release, Cousins will enter Chicagoland with brothers Amit & Kalpesh Patel, the co-founders of OM Group. The Patel brothers have owned and operated more than 50 franchise units throughout the Midwest and elsewhere since the early ‘90s, including Dunkin’ Donuts, Rosati’s Pizza, Wingstops and a number of gas stations.

Amit Patel says he’s had his eye on Cousins for a while. When he learned the brand was looking for a large-scale development partner in Chicagoland, he jumped at the opportunity.

“My mom’s family lived in Wisconsin, and three of her brothers are Cousins franchisees,” Amit said. “I’ve always loved the food. We grew up eating it every time we went to visit the family.”

The Patels will open their first Chicagoland Cousins Subs location this year, with plans to open an additional five to six locations each year over the next several years.

Ferguson said there remains enormous growth potential for new Cousins franchisees throughout the Midwest.

“Amit’s restaurants in Chicagoland are just the beginning,” he said. “The Midwest is flush with markets where Cousins is primed for success, and we’re excited to work with new franchise partners in markets we’ve identified as opportunities.”

For more information about Cousins Subs, visit

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