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How Togo’s Built a Thriving Brand By Attracting Fans-Turned-Franchisees
At Togo’s, there’s a rich history of current franchisees who first fell in love with the brand as fanatical customers.

Talk to just about any Togo’s franchisee, and there’s a good chance they all have their favorite sandwich. For Terry Cornwell, a multi-unit franchisee with restaurants in Carmichael and Davis, California, it’s Togos’ famed pastrami sandwich. And for Givo Ishaya, the owner of a Togo’s in Atwater, California, it’s the gargantuan Triple Dip.

The list could go on and on. And that’s because, at Togo’s, there’s a rich history of current franchisees who first fell in love with the brand as fanatical customers.

Ever since Togo’s was founded in 1971, the brand’s secret to success has been simple: all sandwiches would be made-to-order and stuffed with only the freshest ingredients. Today, nearly 45 years later, Togo’s has nearly 300 restaurants that are either open or under development in California, Washington, Oregon, Colorado, Arizona and Idaho. And over the past four decades, the commitment that Togo’s was founded upon is still reflected on their menu boards and in the passion that every franchisee, guest and team member has for the brand and the unwavering high-quality that it stands for.

“How do you set yourself apart in the restaurant business? The simple answer is that you give guests the best value, and that’s not just about price,” said CEO Tony Gioia. “It’s about the quality and freshness of the food you are offering, how the menu is set up, giving people choices, and providing an outstanding guest experience.”

Terry Cornwell has been grabbing Togo’s sandwiches for lunch ever since he was in high school in Carmichael, California. Like most California natives, he developed a deep love for the brand’s commitment to fresh, high-quality sandwiches over the years. So one day, when his wife was biting into a Togo’s pastrami sandwich and said, “You know, there’s really nothing else out there that beats a Togo’s sandwich,” Cornwell was struck with a brilliant idea—why couldn’t they open a Togo’s restaurant of their own?

And just like that, they did. Today, they’re the proud owners of a location in Carmichael, California—the town where Cornwell got his first taste of the true Togo’s experience.

“I was eating at a Togo’s restaurant in high school in the Sacramento area when the brand was just getting its start—now, I’ve been able to both watch, and contribute to, it’s growth throughout the area,” Cornwell said. “I always remember Togo’s being such a fun place to eat. It was a place that I had fell in love with as a teenager. I’m happy I can help share some of the best sandwiches on the West Coast with even more people.”

Letha Tran, a Togo’s multi-unit franchisee with restaurants in Morgan Hill and Redwood City, California, and Givo Ishaya, the owner of a Togo’s in Atwater, California, share a similar story. Tran has been eating Togo’s sandwiches her entire life—before she was even tall enough to see above the counter. For more than 20 years she was a loyal Togo’s customer. So when the opportunity to own a restaurant of her own arose, without hesitation, she decided to invest. And for Ishaya, he also grew up eating Togo’s sandwiches. His deep love for the product inspired him to take the leap into business ownership, too.

“Togo’s has the kind of quality in the sandwich industry that’s second to none. That’s the DNA of Togo’s, and it’ll always be the DNA of Togo’s,” Gioia said. “A lot of franchisees will all tell you that their success over the years has really come down to the great product. It truly is incredible how many of our owners over the years have been—and continue to be—such ardent fans and supporters. You can’t find that kind of deep-rooted affinity anywhere else.” 

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