How Firehouse Makes Their Subs
If you haven’t been to Firehouse Subs before, or you’re just wondering how to make subs like they, this article will give you some insight to that.
Making all of their subs requires a lot of prepped veggies and meat. For a store running $5000 dollars a day, the prep can take 8 to 9 hours to finish alone.
This depends on how the specific store is doing their prep, and the equipment used.
Over the years of working there, this has changed drastically. Even though this is the case at different store locations, there are some fundamental ways that all store go by to make their sandwiches.
How Firehouse Subs Makes Their Meats
The meats used by Firehouse Subs mostly come as huge chunks of packaged deli meats that weigh 4 to 14 pounds, depending on the type of meat.
For slicing their meats, Firehouse uses a slicer machine to slice the meats into thin layers. All of their meats are sliced like this, except for the meatballs, salami, pepperoni, and steak, which come packaged and pre-sliced.
The meats are all pre-seasoned. None of them are seasoned at the store. The only exception is the meatballs. They are seasoned beforehand, but the marinara sauce is added later.
They use their own brand of meats for their stores (atleast the one I worked at did).
The layers of the meat are made so thin that the meat feels like paper in your hand, and sometimes has small torn holes. The meat is never shredded. It is always attached, even with the torn holes. This meat is then weighed, and stored in a commercial cooler for steaming later.
How Firehouse Subs Makes Their Bread
Firehouse has their bread pre-baked before it arrives at the store locations. There isn’t any baking going on at the stores. The bread is a french bread style, with the famous ‘finger presses’ on the top of each loaf.
The loaf is made in a way that all is needed is cuts to resize the bread into different sub sizes. The bread is 12 inches in length, which is the base for making all their large sub sandwiches. The medium and smalls are made from the 8 inch loaf size.
All of their breads are layed down on their belly on the cutting board with the “finger presses” on the bread facing up. They are then cut in half horizontally with ba serrated knife before going through a conveyor oven.
The small sized subs bread is made by cutting the 8 inch bread in half vertically first, then horizontally before going through the oven.
How Firehouse Subs Makes Their Cheese
All of Firehouse Sub’s cheese is also made beforehand. They come packaged in boxes filled with cheese that is packaged similar to the sliced cheese at the store.
For their sub sandwiches, the only thing that needs to be done is placing the cheese unto the meat before it is thrown into the steamer.
How Firehouse Subs Prepares Their Veggies
Firehouse orders their produce from a supplier like most large restaurants do. The quality of their produce is dependent on the supplier. When they slice their vegetables, they use basic vegetable slicers to cut them up into slices, squares, and rectangles for their subs and salads.
The bell peppers and onions are the few exceptions. These are usually sliced by hand to some extent. The onions are cut and placed on the slicer machine vertically to make onion rings.
How Firehouse Makes The Entire Sub
The entire sub from start to finish is an easy process taking anywhere from 5 to 7 minutes. If there is a line of people ordering, it can take longer than this at times.
Some of the information might be different for a few specific subs, but this is the general way for most of their subs.
1. The meat and cheese is dropped in the steamer.
From the time that the customer selects the size, type of bread and sandwhich, is when the meat and cheese is taken from the commercial cooler to the steamer where it is steam.
The amount of meat depends on the size of the sub ordered. The small usually comes with 2 ounces of meat, 4 for a medium, and 8 for a large. The meat is selected, placed on cooking paper, and the cheese is placed on top of the meat before it is dropped into the steamer to steam.
The number of cheese slices also depends on the size of the sub. The small gets 1 slice, the medium size gets 2, and the large has 3. The cheese is melted by the time it exits the steamer.
Cold meat and half melted cheese is a sure sign of meat removed from the steamer before it is finished.
2. The bread is heated.
The bread is thrown into the conveyor oven after the meat and cheese goes in the steamer.
It takes less time for the bread to heat than it does for the meat and cheese. If the bread is placed into the oven first, then it will be cold, dry, or hard by the time it reaches the customer. Not all the time, but sometimes this is the case; especially if there is a long line of people ordering and the bread stacks up.
An amatuer employee will send the bread in first to try to quickly make the subs, resulting in bad quality.
3. The mayonnaise is spread on the bread.
After the bread is heated, the mayonnaise is spread on each half of the inside of the cut bun. The entire inside is covered with mayo.
4. The vegetables are placed on the bun.
Next the vegetables are put on top of the bottom half of the bun. Firehouse Subs has a specific order of how the condiments and veggies go on the sandwich. They usually aren’t placed in some random order.
If the specific sandwhich doesn’t come with veggies or isn’t ordered with any, then it doesn’t get veggies.
5. The steamed meat and cheese is placed on the sub.
By this time the meat and cheese in the steamer is done or almost finished.
It is taken out in a safe manner, all the excessive juices are drained in a bin, and the meat with the cheese is placed on top of the vegetables with a long straight icing spatula.
It is important for the meat and cheese to be drained of the excessive juice, otherwise the sub will end up soggy later.
6. Sandwhich is closed.
Once all the condiments, vegetables, and meat and cheese are placed on the sub, it is covered with the top bun.
7. Sub is cut in half.
The sub is cut in half vertically with a serrated knife at a 45 degree angle. Since small subs are only 4 inches long, they do not get cut in half again. Only the medium and the large size subs are cut once they are fully made.
8. Sub is placed on a tray, or boxed and bagged.
The firehouse sub is then placed on a tray (if you’re dining in) with tooth picks vertically going into the middle of each half. The small subs get a toothpick too.
For the takeouts, a special sub box is used with a Firehouse Sub logo on the top of the box. A cooking paper is placed in the box first before the sandwich is placed in.
It is bagged in a paper bag with a logo on it afterwards.
Each sandwhich should be numbered with the corresponding number on the ticket/receipt. Every sub sandwhich has a deli pickle included with it, unless it is a kids meal, along silverware.
9. The order is placed up for pick-up.
The “code” of the order is called out along with the name of the customer. Dine-ins are delivered directly to the customer and a number is given to them instead of calling out their name.
The “code” of the order is nothing more than a secret number called out to all the employees, representing how many minutes it took to finish the sandwiches from start to finish.
A “code 10” simply means that it took 10 minutes for the employees to finish making the sandwiches at Firehouse for that order.
This time starts as soon as the customer begins ordering.
The aim of Firehouse is to finish an order in between a code 4 and 6. This doesn’t usually happen during busy hours, and can be stressful for the employees, management, and the customers.