Cousins Subs

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Cousins Submarines
Industry Restaurants
Founded 1972 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Headquarters Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin
Key people
Bill Specht,
Christine Specht-Palmert,
President & CEO
Products Sandwiches
Other food products

Cousins Submarines,[1] better known as Cousins Subs, is a Milwaukee, Wisconsin-based sub sandwich shop who was founded in 1972. Cousins Subs is a regional chain with restaurants in Wisconsin, Minnesota and Arizona.


Cousins Subs was founded in Milwaukee, Wisconsin in 1972 by cousins Bill Specht and James Sheppard, who could not find a suitable sub sandwich option in Milwaukee like they had when they lived in New Jersey.[2]

The first Cousins Subs location in Milwaukee, Wisconsin - 60th & Silver Spring Drive.

Specht and Sheppard opened their first restaurant in Milwaukee, which was located at 60th Street and Silver Spring Drive.[3] After opening the shop, they partnered with a local baker to make their own bread,[4] highlighted in the slogan "Better Bread, Better Subs". A large segment of customers during Cousins' early years were former East Coast residents.[5]

In 2009, Cousins announced a marketing initiative to focus on the local side of the business.[6] During the Great Recession, Cousins closed over 40 locations in an effort to focus on quality.[7]

Christine Specht-Palmert, son of co-founder Bill Specht, took over as CEO in 2015 when her father retired.[8]

Cousins Subs announced another rebranding in 2016 that includes expanding their footprint to Midwest metropolitan areas;[9] remodeling all locations to its Milwaukee Sub Shop to unify the brand;[10] updating its exterior design,[11] logo, packaging and uniform designs;[12] and offering improved in-store experience for its guests.[13] Along with the remodel, Cousins struck sponsorship agreements with the Milwaukee Bucks, Wisconsin Timber Rattlers and Wisconsin Badgers.[14] It has also worked with separate real estate firms to look into new markets like Madison, Wisconsin.[15]

By investing in these key areas, Cousins Subs is reimagining the brand to thrive in existing markets and launch its fast casual restaurant concept nationally.

Cousins operates stores in Wisconsin, Arizona, and Minnesota. The Milwaukee area stores are corporately owned but the rest are all franchises.[16]


As a Wisconsin-based company and Milwaukee brand, Cousins Subs uses products such as Wisconsin cheese, Badger Ham, Klement's Sausage, Johnsonville Sausage, Best Maid Cookies and Sprecher Root Beer.[14]

In addition to deli fresh and grilled sandwiches served on a variety of bread that's baked daily, Cousins Subs also serves: fresh fries, Wisconsin cheese curds, potato chips, soups, salads, and freshly baked cookies.

Recent menu ichanges include antibiotic-free, all-white meat chicken and antibiotic and hormone-free 100% USDA choice steak for all grilled sub sandwiches; spinach and guacamole as permanent topping options; and a garden salad made with spinach.[17]

Charitable giving[edit]

In 2013, Cousins started the "Make It Better Foundation" to help improve health and wellness and eliminate hunger.[18] Cousins has also supported local charities near its locations.[14]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Archived from the original on June 21, 2010. Retrieved March 15, 2011.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  2. ^ "Cousins Subs has new CEO". Retrieved 2017-03-17. 
  3. ^ "Jagler: Cousins Subs CEO raises the stakes". Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Retrieved 2017-03-17. 
  4. ^ "Cousins Subs Franchise Information". Entrepreneur. Retrieved 2017-03-17. 
  5. ^ "Cousins Subs & Johnsonville Owners Converse All Things Wisconsin". Cousins Subs & Johnsonville Owners Converse All Things Wisconsin. Retrieved 2017-03-17. 
  6. ^ "Milwaukee Talks: Cousins Subs president Christine Specht". Retrieved 2017-03-17. 
  7. ^ "Cousins Subs shrinks in push to grow". Nation's Restaurant News. 2016-05-17. Retrieved 2017-03-17. 
  8. ^ "". Retrieved 2017-03-17.  External link in |title= (help)
  9. ^ "Cousins Subs makes sweeping changes to refresh brand, returns to original logo". 2016-05-16. Retrieved 2017-03-17. 
  10. ^ "Cousins Subs launches rebranding, remodeling initiative". Retrieved 2017-03-17. 
  11. ^ "Milwaukee's Cousins Subs launches rebranding effort". WISN. 2016-05-19. Retrieved 2017-03-17. 
  12. ^ "Cousins Subs launches rebranding strategy to promote future growth | BizTimes Media Milwaukee". BizTimes Media Milwaukee. 2016-05-16. Retrieved 2017-03-17. 
  13. ^ "Cousins Subs to rebrand 44-year-old business". Retrieved 2017-03-17. 
  14. ^ a b c "Cousins Subs rebrands, remodels". Retrieved 2017-03-17. 
  15. ^ "Cousins Subs exploring new Midwest locations | BizTimes Media Milwaukee". BizTimes Media Milwaukee. 2016-01-05. Retrieved 2017-03-17. 
  16. ^ "Milwaukee Talks: Cousins Subs president Christine Specht". Retrieved 2017-03-17. 
  17. ^ "Cousins Subs". Franchising Today Magazine. Retrieved 2017-03-17. 
  18. ^ nicole (2015-06-03). "Cousins Subs Founder Is Succeeded by his Daughter". QSR magazine. Retrieved 2017-03-17.