Firehouse Subs’ co-owner Lane Tittle talks about the first responder theme of the Hawks Prairie restaurant he and his wife, Heidi, have opened. The wall mural depicts a Lacey Fire District 3 engine and a JBLM-based Chinook helicopter, with Mount Rainier as the backdrop. Steve Bloom sbloom@theolympian.com
Firehouse Subs’ co-owner Lane Tittle talks about the first responder theme of the Hawks Prairie restaurant he and his wife, Heidi, have opened. The wall mural depicts a Lacey Fire District 3 engine and a JBLM-based Chinook helicopter, with Mount Rainier as the backdrop. Steve Bloom sbloom@theolympian.com

Business

Former Army member returns to Northwest to open Firehouse Subs

June 18, 2016 03:20 PM

It’s easy to be blown away by the natural beauty of the Northwest, especially after the rain has stopped, the sun comes out and Mount Rainier pops into view like you’ve never seen it before.

That’s what happened to Lane Tittle, originally from Dallas. He spent the summer of 2014 at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, wrapping up six years in the Army, and knew — after seeing that mountain — that he wanted to return to the Northwest.

But first he went back home to Texas and then moved with his wife to Oklahoma so that she could attend graduate school. Lane worked in real estate appraisal.

And then one day he walked into a Firehouse Subs and ordered its Hook and Ladder sub sandwich. Full disclosure: Lane used to regularly eat at Jimmy John’s, another sub sandwich business.

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“I never thought I would be a hot subs guy,” said Lane about the product Firehouse serves. After that, the owner of that particular franchise just happened to sit down with him to talk about the business. And then Lane was on the phone with the Jacksonville, Florida-based company — on his way to becoming a franchise owner.

The Lacey location is the fifth Firehouse Subs in Washington state. The next closest locations are in Vancouver, Washington, Marysville and Everett. The business, started by two brothers who used to be firefighters, is 20 years old and has nearly 1,000 locations nationwide.

Lane didn’t have any food service experience, so he trained at another store for about six months and then opened his 2,300-square-foot location at The Landing at Hawks Prairie on Galaxy Drive. The doors opened May 14. Lane also has plans to bring a Firehouse Subs to west Olympia, and if all goes as planned, he’d like to open one in DuPont.

The business sells 10 hot sub sandwiches, along with options for children, and an under-500 calories menu for those watching their waistlines.

The sandwiches are sold in 8-inch (medium) and 12-inch (large) sizes and served hot unless the customers would like them cold. That means the bread is toasted and the meat and cheese are steamed, Lane said. Prices might be a little higher than at a similar restaurant, but he said one of the expressions used at Firehouse Subs is “piled higher,” meaning plenty of ingredients per sandwich.

One of the more popular subs is the Smokehouse Beef & Cheddar Brisket or the aforementioned Hook & Ladder, served with smoked turkey breast, Virginia ham, Monterey Jack cheese, plus it’s “fully involved,” meaning it comes with mayonnaise, deli mustard, lettuce, tomato, onion and a Kosher dill spear on the side, according to the menu.

Or you can customize your sub.

Firehouse Subs also operates a public safety foundation, a nonprofit that raises money for first responders. Customers can donate at the store, round up their order to the nearest dollar and the difference is donated, or they can purchase empty 5-gallon pickle buckets for $2 each. To date, the foundation has raised $18 million, he said.

Firehouse Subs

Owners: Lane and Heidi Tittle

Location: 1110 Galaxy Drive NE, Suite G, Lacey (site also known as The Landing at Hawks Prairie).

Years in business: New. Firehouse Subs opened May 14.

Type of business: Restaurant

Employees: 25

Hours: 10:30 a.m. to 9 p.m., seven days a week

Online: www.firehousesubs.com

Did you know? Each Firehouse Subs gets its own mural. The Lacey location has a picture of Lacey Fire District 3, Mount Rainier, the trees and, in a nod to Joint Base Lewis-McChord, a Chinook helicopter.