Jacksonville-based Southern Grounds & Co. announced May 17 it named Greg Delks, former Firehouse Subs vice president of franchise development, as director of franchising.
He will develop and implement the U.S. franchising strategy for the coffee and cafe chain.
Delks “joins the emerging regional brand at a pivotal time of strategic growth as the brand takes the next step toward its expansive goal of opening up a dozen operations each year for the next decade,” according to a news release.
Southern Grounds owner Mark Janasik announced in January 2022 that the company expected to offer franchising opportunities in Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia, as well as select markets in Florida, including the West Coast, Panhandle and Orlando.
Janasik founded the company in 2016.
“After seven years of strategic development in our hometown markets of Northeast Florida, Southern Grounds is primed for an elite franchise development program and who better to lead that charge than industry veteran Greg Delks,” Janasik said in the release.
Delks headed the franchise development program at Firehouse Subs for 17 years.
The release said he grew the Jacksonville-based restaurant chain from fewer than 400 restaurants to more than 1,200.
He expanded the Firehouse Subs brand into international markets and U.S. territories, including Canada and Puerto Rico, in addition to the development of nontraditional venues such as airports, college campuses and hospitals.
“The strong unit economics in company-owned restaurants, a chef-driven menu and sustainable gourmet coffee offerings with a design enhanced restaurant layout will make Southern Grounds a great investment opportunity for experienced multi-unit hospitality professionals,” Delks said in the release.
Firehouse Subs was acquired for $1 billion in December 2021 by Restaurant Brands International Inc., a Toronto-based company, which also owns the Burger King, Popeyes and Tim Hortons chains.
Southern Grounds operates three company-owned locations in Northeast Florida with two additional expected this year, according to the release.
In February 2022, the company opened its first airport location inside the Jacksonville International Airport, operated by airport food service specialist HMSHost.
It will continue nontraditional development under Delks’ leadership.