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 which was founded in 1972. Cousins Subs is a regional chain with restaurants in Wisconsin 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, daughter 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]

As of May 2017, Cousins operates 95 stores in Wisconsin and two in Arizona. The Milwaukee area stores are corporately owned but the rest are all franchises.[16]


The company specializes in standard sandwich shop fare, but differs from other franchise-based sandwich restaurants in that they offer french fries and cheese curds as sides in addition to the typical offerings of chips and cookies. In 2015,[17] the company began using more local and regional products in their food as part of a wider series of rebranding moves.

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 "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. ^ nicole (2015-11-13). "Cousins Subs Honor Wisconsin Roots with Cheese, Sodas". QSR magazine. Retrieved 2017-11-21. 
  18. ^ nicole (2015-06-03). "Cousins Subs Founder Is Succeeded by his Daughter". QSR magazine. Retrieved 2017-03-17.