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Firehouse ranked top sandwich chain

By Karen Brune Mathis, Managing Editor

Jacksonville-based Firehouse Subs topped the chart as the nation’s preferred sandwich chain, reports RestaurantNews.com.

The trade website said Market Force Information, which tracks customer preferences, released results of a nationwide study of more than 6,100 consumers revealing their favorite quick-service restaurant chains, based on satisfaction. The study ranked the top restaurants in the categories of pizza, Mexican fare, sandwiches and chicken.

Firehouse Subs topped the sandwich list, earning a 68 percent “composite loyalty score,” followed by Panera Bread with 62 percent and Jimmy John’s with 54 percent.The report found that Firehouse Subs made inroads with diners with its specialty hot sandwiches and support of public safety organizations and causes. Firehouse is considered one of the restaurant industry’s fastest-growing brands. It has more than 750 restaurants in 41 states and Puerto Rico.

Two of the chart leaders are familiar to Northeast Florida — Papa Murphy’s leads the pizza category and Qdoba Mexican Grill is tops in Mexican, although Qdoba left the Jacksonville market last year.

No. 1 in the chicken category is Raising Cane’s Chicken Fingers, founded in 1996 in Baton Rouge, La. It has nearly 100 restaurants in 15 states, with new restaurants under construction, but isn’t in Jacksonville. Its LinkedIn profile says its vision “is to have restaurants all over the world and be the brand for quality chicken finger meals, a great crew, cool culture, and active community involvement.”

Whole Foods sees need for 1,200 stores

In its second-quarter report, Whole Foods Market Inc. said Tuesday that it expects to open seven more stores in the third quarter and another 11-14 in the fourth quarter.

A spokesman previously told the Daily Record no stores are planned for Jacksonville, including in the smaller and urban markets that Forbes.com said Whole Foods Market wants to enter.

Still, with the company saying Tuesday that it sees demand for 1,200 Whole Foods Market stores in the United States, up from 379 now, it makes sense that Northeast Florida might be a candidate.

The Austin, Texas-based chain said it would cross the 500-store mark in 2017.

Whole Foods Market said it has signed new leases in Fayetteville, Ark.; Honolulu; Indianapolis; Metuchen, N.J.; Chappaqua and Buffalo, NY; Lower Gwynedd Township, Pa.; Fort Worth; and Richmond, Va.

Since the end of the first quarter, the company said it has added eight stores in six new markets. In the second quarter, it opened three new stores. So far in the third quarter, Whole Foods Market has opened one new store and completed its acquisition of four New Frontiers Natural Marketplace stores in Flagstaff, Prescott and Sedona, Ariz., and San Luis Obispo, Calif.

Red Robin says ‘no plans’ for Jacksonville

While Red Robin Gourmet Burgers Inc. is opening throughout Florida, there aren’t any in the works for Jacksonville.

“At this time, we have no plans for opening a Red Robin location in Jacksonville,” a spokesman said by email.

The Creekwood, Calif.-based chain, founded in 1969, has 500 restaurants across the U.S. and Canada, including those under franchise agreements. It has 17 locations from west to south to central Florida, including Gainesville.

Dining build-out

• Jersey Mike’s Subs, 12795 San Jose Blvd., No. 15.

• My Dreams Cuban Café, 9938 Beach Blvd.

• Beach Diner, awning, 1965 San Marco Blvd.

• Filipino Cuisine, 3546 St. Johns Bluff Road S.

Food bites

Food-related businesses filed names recently with the state Division of Corporations under the Fictitious Name Law to operate:

• Danilo’s Famous Lumpia, by Darryl D. Sayas and Gwendolyn E. McClellend, 1979 Hovington Circle W.

• Smokin Bonz BBQ, by Debora Ann Greene, 2706 Horn St., Jacksonville Beach.

• Ohhh Sweet Heavens Bakery…..*A Sugar Lover’s Dream*, by Aristen I. Wiggins and Tamika C. Nash-Fripp, 455 Hearthside Court, Orange Park.

• Tropical Smoothie Cafe, to T.S. Blanding Corp., P.O. Box 430, Ponte Vedra Beach.

• Four K’s Inc. doing business as 210 Hurricane Grill & Wings, to Four K’s Inc., 2229 Cascadia Court, St. Augustine. Four K’s Inc. comprises directors Katherine A. Walls, president; Kristi Leigh Berry, secretary; and Ryan Thomas Berry.

Dining sign

• Auntie Anne’s, 10337 Midtown Parkway.

kmathis@baileypub.com

(904) 356-2466

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