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5 sandwich & sub shops on Restaurantology’s radar

June 13, 2023 | Industry News | by Grant Gadoci

Americans love sandwiches. They are the cornerstone of breakfast, lunch, and dinner menus across both Limited- and Full-Service restaurants.

Last year alone, billions of dollars were made selling sandwiches and subs thanks largely to Subway, Panera Bread, Arby’s, Jimmy John’s, Jersey Mike’s Subs, and Firehouse Subs. The six brands above dominated the segment in both location counts and sales.

Other than Subway closing ~1,600 stores over the past four-to-five years (news of a buyout is imminent according to several restaurant media outlets) – Panera Bread, Arby’s, Jimmy John’s, Jersey Mike’s, and Firehouse Subs have only closed a collective 1,118 units over the past six months according to Restaurantology location data pulled this month for the six-month trailing time period between January and June 2023.

It’s safe to say the sandwich and subs segment is doing well.

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But who else is growing in the sandwich & subs segment?

Because selling into chains and franchised restaurant brands is historically challenging (we cover why in this blog here), we went in search of emerging and high-growth sandwich and sub concepts that may not be on your radar – but should absolutely be in your CRM.

Five sandwich & sub concepts that should be in your CRM


Chicken Salad Chick hits our list after announcing an agreement to strengthen the brand’s presence across Northern Virginia and Washington, D.C. As of this month, the self-proclaimed “nation’s only fast-casual chicken salad restaurant concept” signed an eight-unit agreement that will bring new restaurants to Arlington and Fairfax Counties over the next five years. The first location is slated to open in Spring 2024.

According to a press release, Chicken Salad Chick’s investment opportunity and multiple revenue streams have gained attention among local families and aspiring entrepreneurs. The brand continues to expand into new markets, seeing a 10% increase in unit count year-over-year. In addition to this impressive growth, Chicken Salad Chick reported over $306.8 million in systemwide sales, a 20% increase over 2021, and grew to record-setting AUV.


Since 1995, Mr. Pickle’s has been a premier sandwich shop specializing in innovative sandwiches, salads, and catering.

So what makes this concept interesting now? Two things:

  1. The original owners retired in 2020, handing over the reins to long-time customer and restaurant veteran Mike Nelson. As CEO of Mr. Pickle’s, Nelson brings 30 years of experience owning and operating Wingstop, Subway restaurants, and Carl’s Jr. franchises nationwide.
  2. After 20 years, Mr. Pickle’s relocated its headquarters to Scottsdale, Arizona, where they plan to open six more locations across the Valley over the next 18 months. So far, they’ve successfully opened new locations in Scottsdale, Chandler, and Surprise.

Sully’s Steamers was founded in downtown Greenville in 2013 by Robert “Sully” Sullivan; an entrepreneur turned restaurateur. The sandwich and bagel concept has five other locations in Brevard, North Carolina, plus additional locations in Clemson, Simpsonville, Mauldin, and Spartanburg.

They’re on our radar because of a recent partnership with Avison Young (a real estate development company) and a large sponsorship deal just inked with the Clemson baseball team. According to a press release, the partnership with Avison Young will allow the brand to expand into new locations across the Southeast. Avison Young will assist with site selection, market insights, and logistics.

The sponsorship deal will keep the Sully brand name ever-present in the minds of ticket holders and the broader Clemson community. New locations haven’t been announced yet – but there’s public intent and strategic action setting them up for growth in what we predict is the not-so-distant future.


For a brand that earned itself the status of a must-visit, iconic dining spot in the Bay Area during the rise of Yelp, the concept sure is expanding under the radar. Founded in 2007, Ike’s Love & Sandwiches has been scouting and launching locations at a relatively fast pace. Just this week, they announced a new location opening in Brentwood, CA. Between January and May 2023, the brand opened additional locations across Southern California, including Manhattan Beach, La Jolla, and Westminster. The brand also announced its intent to open locations in Georgetown, TX (part of the Greater Austin area), Westwood, CA, Desert Ridge, AZ, and downtown Los Angeles.


Baldinos Giant Jersey Subs Georgia (there’s another group in North Carolina) is the fifth and final pick on our list of emerging sandwich and sub shops to keep an eye on. While they’ve only opened two additional locations since January 2023, they recently received the title of “best sandwich shop in all of Georgia,” according to a list compiled by Love Food.

Fill your CRM with 300+ sandwich & sub shop accounts.


Restaurantology does the work of watching emerging and high-growth sandwich and sub restaurant brands at scale so you and your sales team can focus on qualifying and closing deals faster. See how industry-leading companies are shaving hours off managing multi-unit restaurant data using Restaurantology’s CRM Integration. Learn more here.