|Industry||Fast food restaurants|
|Headquarters||Denver, Colorado, U.S.|
|Key people||Stuart K. Mathis (CEO), Susan Lintonsmith (CMO), Jim Lyons (COO), Rick E. Schaden, former CEO Kenneth Cutshaw (President of International)|
|Products||Submarine sandwiches, Salads, other food products|
|Revenue||US$130 million (2004)|
QIP Holder LLC (d/b/a Quiznos) is a franchised fast-food restaurant brand based in Denver, Colorado, which specializes in offering toasted subs. The restaurant chain was founded in 1981 by Jimmy Lambatos and sold to Rick and Richard Schaden in 1991, and grew to comprise nearly 5000 Quiznos restaurants. As of the end of 2013, the chain had about 1500 domestic locations and about 600 international locations. Quiznos is the second-largest submarine sandwich shop chain in North America, after Subway.
The first Quiznos restaurant was opened in Denver, Colorado by company founder Jimmy Lambatos. At the time Lambatos was an experienced Denver-area chef, having previously worked as an executive chef for the Colorado Mine Co. Steakhouse, and having founded the Italian restaurant Footers in 1978. He founded Quiznos with partner Todd Disner in the spring of 1981. The first location was at the corner of 13th and Grant streets in the Capitol Hill neighborhood of the city. According to Kevin Jenkins, "It was there that recipes for Quiznos special baguette-style bread, special dressings and unique recipes were created."
According to Patrick Sweeney, "The sandwich shop earned a following for its toasted subs that Lambatos said were inspired by the oven-baked sandwiches he enjoyed while growing up in New York." Lambatos said of his decision to toast the submarine sandwiches at the first Quiznos that, "it's a signature type of thing. Heating anything brings out the flavors in food products." The restaurant menu featured toasted submarine sandwiches, as well as salads, soups, and desserts.
After two years, the restaurant started to offer franchises in order to expand, offering its first franchises in 1983. The franchises were offered under the name Quiznos American Inc. By 1987 there were twelve Quiznos restaurant locations in the United States. That year Rick Schaden and his father, aviation attorney Richard Schaden, opened his first Quiznos franchise in a Boulder, Colorado shopping center at the age of 23. They would open three additional restaurants, before purchasing the 18 restaurant chain from the founders in January 1991 and renaming it The Quiznos Franchise Corp. Rick Schaden would become the president, and then CEO of Quiznos after the purchase. Jenkins wrote that Schaden, "began building a professional infrastructure to support franchise owners that included volume purchasing, standardized training and operations procedures, as well as marketing support." Quiznos was taken public in February 1994, with an IPO of one million shares of stock at $5 per share, resulting in a $4.4 million yield. By the end of 1995 Quiznos had 103 different locations.
In 1997 Quiznos became the number three submarine sandwich franchise in the world, with 278 locations in North America and Puerto Rico. The following year, in 1998, Quiznos Canada acquired the master franchise rights to Quiznos restaurants in Canada, as well as the master rights in the United Kingdom in 1999. Glenvista Enterprises then acquire the rights for several provinces in Australia. KMN USA LLC acquired the franchise rights for Japan, opening its first location in early 1999. The company again went private in June 2001. In 2002, Wendy's acquired the rights to the brand for franchises in Australia, and later, New Zealand, but were unsuccessful in launching the chain in either country. In 2005 the company partenered with Ray Wilson to open a new chain of fitness centres called 123 Fitness. At its peak in 2007, there were more than 5000 Quiznos franchise locations.
Recession and restructuring
Between 2007 and 2009, 1,000 Quiznos stores closed. After the closure of around 2000 restaurants during the Great Recession, a majority stake in the company was purchased by Avenue Capital Group of New York in January 2012. According to Ed Sealover, the purchase was done in "a deal that eliminated about one-third of the company’s $900 million debt and infused about $150 million cash into the company". Avenue Capital Group brought on turnaround specialist Harsha V. Agadi as Quiznos executive chairman. They also brought on Stuart Mathis as the CEO, former president of The UPS Store, who stated the company would try to counteract shrinking sales by promoting "the quality of its food".
There are over 2,100 Quiznos shops located mostly in the United States and Canada. The chain also said it planned to expand to locations in over 40 countries and territories, including Europe, the Middle East, Southeast Asia and Central and South America, by 2012. In July 2013, the company stated it planned to expand into Russia, where it is looking to open about 500 stores. QSR wrote in November 2013 that, "Following its most recent international successes in Mexico, Russia, and the United Arab Emirates, Quiznos will bring toasted sandwiches to Indonesia with the signature of PT Quiznosindo as the brand’s newest franchisor. The group, led by Tan Po Lian, plans to open 100 units in Indonesia over the next 10 years ... Quiznos South Korea has seen a system wide 12 percent sales lift, largely due to a country-wide marketing campaign, featuring actor Lee Sang Yoon, launched in March 2013. ... Expansion into Singapore, South Korea, the Philippines, and Indonesia is part of Quiznos’ continued international development plan to open more than 1,000 international stores in more than 40 countries by 2020."
|Wikinews has related news: Quiznos restaurant chain airs controversial commercial|
The company's first major advertising push was a successful advertising campaign during the 2002 Super Bowl. Early TV spots advertised the innovation of toasting sandwiches, as compared to the inventor of pants (humorously contrasted with men wearing bushes). One ad in 2003 depicted a man (a then-unknown Jim Parsons) who had been "raised by wolves" by suckling at a mother wolf's teat. Other ads included several ads in early 2004 featuring bizarre, rodent-like, singing creatures called Spongmonkeys, as well as Quiznos ads in Canada featuring hockey commentator Don Cherry. In 2005, Quiznos launched a series of ads featuring Baby Bob.
In June 2006, Quiznos revealed their new slogan: "Eat Up". Nationally, the subs feature a Quiznos sub with steam emanating from it with the slogan, "Mmmm... toasty". Actor Michael Clarke Duncan formerly provided the voiceover for all Quiznos commercials. On September 18, 2006, Quiznos launched the most aggressive advertising campaign aimed at Subway. Dubbed the "Prime Rib Cheesesteak Challenge", customers were asked to compare the brand new Prime Rib Cheesesteak against Subway's Cheesesteak sandwich. The claim is that the Prime Rib Cheesesteak has twice the meat of Subway's Cheesesteak. If the customers are not satisfied, then they can fill out a form, mail the form along with their receipt, and they will receive a coupon for a free sandwich. In subsequent advertisements, Quiznos was shown competing with the fictional "Wrong Way" restaurant based on Subway restaurants and imagery.
The Coca-Cola Company was originally the primary soft drink supplier for the franchise, until 2005. At that time, Coca-Cola went on to sign an exclusive agreement to provide soft drinks to the competing Subway franchise. As a result, Quiznos in turn signed an exclusive deal with PepsiCo (except in Canada and on college campuses that have exclusive deals with Coca-Cola) and Dr Pepper Snapple Group (to serve Dr Pepper).
Lawsuits and controversies
One lawsuit cited a memorandum drafted by a Quiznos lawyer in 2003 that stated “40 percent of Quiznos units are not breaking even”, a fact that prospective franchisees say they were never told. The Small Business Administration said 23.4 percent of Quiznos franchises with SBA loans failed. In contrast, Subway had a 4.8 percent failure rate.
As a single example of an unprofitable franchise, Fredrick N. Westerfield was running three Quiznos in Wisconsin. After spending $14,000 in personal savings to keep the stores running, he realized he had a debt of $750,000. He closed all his stores in 2005. "Customers used to come into the store and say to me, 'You must be rolling in the money,'" recalled Mr. Westerfield. "If they only knew."
In 2002, the Seattle Times reported that the company initially ignored the plight of a Quiznos employee who took over operations of one Quiznos store after the true owner abandoned it. Months later, the store was closed. In June 2004, the Quiznos at Downtown Crossing, Boston, was at the center of a hepatitis scare. Quiznos has been the target of several lawsuits related to its treatment of franchisees, including lawsuits in New Jersey and Wisconsin. It has faced more lawsuits from franchisees than bigger chains, such as McDonald’s, Burger King, Wendy’s, and even its sandwich competitors Subway and Blimpie, according to an analysis by the legal research firm Thomson West. In February 2007, Quiznos franchisees filed a lawsuit seeking class-action status in Michigan.
One lawsuit filed in New Jersey that sought class-action status, said that the astounding growth record of Quiznos is merely a facade. In 2003 and 2004, Quiznos said it sold 234 “trade areas” in the state of New Jersey to franchisees, collecting the $25,000 franchisee fee, but none of these locations ever opened, according to the lawsuit. Three years after handing over her check for the licensing fee, Elisa Whitehall said she had yet to open a Quiznos in the location she bought and Quiznos refused to return her $25,000 licensing fee.
In 2006, Quiznos sent letters to 300 franchises saying mystery shoppers would be coming to test their services. The company sued franchise owners Richard Piotrowski and Ellen Blickman for not putting enough meat in a prime rib sandwich. Piotrowski and Blickman countersued and won the lawsuit in 2009. Judge Morris Hoffman called the meat-weighing exercise and subsequent termination letters a “charade” aimed at bolstering a national ad campaign against rival Subway.
As of July 1, 2010, Quiznos was close to reaching a settlement over the multiyear class-action lawsuit that covers nearly 10,000 of its current and former franchisees. The case comprises four separate class-action lawsuits dating back to 2006 which consolidated in 2009 — involved allegations by attorneys for franchisees that Quiznos Franchise Co. LLC and other entities with ownership or control of the Quiznos chain had violated U.S. racketeering and corruption statutes. Also at issue was the chain’s supply chain and food costs, marketing and advertising funds, and disputes among franchisees that agreed to, but did not open, locations and whether royalties are owed. Quiznos has denied all claims made in the lawsuits and the settlement agreement involves no finding or admission of liability. The cost to Quiznos has been estimated from $100 to $200 million USD. 
On November 27, 2006, Bhupinder Baber, franchise owner of two Long Beach, California, Quiznos locations, committed suicide after a legal battle with the company. In his suicide note, Baber attributed mistreatment by Quiznos to driving him to suicide. The Toasted Subs Franchisee Association (TSFA), a group of franchisees, posted Baber's suicide note on its website, and intended to raise money for Baber's family. Quiznos attempted to terminate the TSFA's franchises. The TSFA in turn filed an injunction on December 15, 2006, in the District Court of Colorado.
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