In 1971, a young college student with a big dream and a little bit of money bought a small sandwich shack near San Jose State University in California. The tiny building, which was constructed in 1919, gave Togo’s its name—the storefront barely had any room for guests, and only four customers could fit in the waiting area at a time. For that reason, all the sandwiches were sold “to go,” and seemingly overnight, the burgeoning brand became a favorite for hungry college students.
From day one, Togos’ secret to success was simple: the young college-student-turned-business-owner vowed to make each one of his sandwiches the way he liked them—made-to-order and stuffed with fresh ingredients. Before long, happy guests and hopeful entrepreneurs were clamoring to partner and open their own Togo’s locations. And by 1974, a second restaurant opened in downtown San Jose. Shortly thereafter, Togo’s officially launched a franchising opportunity, and the brand’s fandom quickly spread beyond San Jose and throughout California.
Today, nearly 45 years later, Togo’s has nearly 300 restaurants either open or under development in California, Washington, Oregon, Colorado, Arizona and Idaho. And over the past four decades, the unique culture and heritage that Togo’s was founded upon is still reflected on their menu boards and in the passion that every franchisee, guest and employee has for the brand and the unwavering high-quality that it stands for.
“We believe we have 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,” said Todd Peterson, the Chief Development Officer for Togo’s. “Our success over the years has really come down to our product. For those that know the brand, it’s pretty striking how many of our guests over the years have been—and continue to be—such ardent supporters. We have that same kind of loyal following as a place like In-N-Out—that kind of deep-rooted affinity that you don’t always see in other brands.”
Now, fueled by passion and a devoted fan base, Togo’s is gearing up to take their sandwiches to the next level by reaching more guests than ever before. With a strong presence in California and a strong team of restaurant industry experts, Togo’s is working to expand the brand’s footprint throughout the West. According to Peterson, this starts with upgrading and improving upon what already makes them great—their products and service.
“Togo’s is embarking on a rebranding process—one where we’re looking at everything from improving our delivery process and how we interact with guests to the speed of our service, our menu and our restaurants’ designs,” Peterson said. “We want to make sure that we’re continuing to grow, remaining relevant and being competitive within our segment. If you’re not growing, you’re not optimizing your brand. We don’t want to be in that camp. Instead, we want to stay ahead of the curve by always striving to be the best version of ourselves as possible.”
These changes include an updated and modernized store design. Because more and more guests want to see exactly how their food is being prepared, Togo’s will be making their food preparation area more transparent than ever before.
“It’s all about the ‘food theater.’ People want to see their food being made and they want to see that only fresh ingredients are being used. We’re piling a quarter-pound of house-made pastrami on sandwiches—so let’s show our customers that. We’re freshly mashing our avocados every day in store, not using a guacamole paste that other people use. We want to show them that, too,” Peterson said. “We realized it’s so crucial to the Togo’s brand and what we believe in to show off our premium ingredients.”
While this rebranding is primarily consumer driven, Peterson believes it’ll help to position the brand in front of potential investors, too—especially as Togo’s embarks on an even more aggressive push for expansion throughout the West.
In addition to its dedication to quality and guest satisfaction, Togo’s also boasts a best-in-class management team and nearly limitless growth potential. And according to Peterson, Togos’ average unit volume is also worth noting, and he believes these enhancements will ultimately enhance the bottom line for franchisees, too.
“We have five consecutive years of same-store sales growth, and our average revenue is above average among sandwich franchisees. We’re always looking for new ways to make our franchisees more profitable and even more efficient, and we’re excited about the new path that Togo’s is embarking on over the next year,” Peterson said. “Passion drives everything we do here at Togo’s, and we believe this is the perfect opportunity for entrepreneurs who want to own a business and feel proud of what they do every single day.”