Firehouse Subs adds to fast-food choices on William Street
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Firehouse Subs, which opened March 11, is the latest restaurant to occupy a strip on William Street that is becoming crowded with fast-food options, catering to the student crowd.
Jessica Hammond owns the franchise, one of 600 around the country, with her husband, Doug. With a background in food and beverages, the couple always wanted to own their own place, but thought buying a known commodity would be better than launching an independent store. They enjoyed eating at Firehouse Subs in Florida while visiting relatives.
"Firehouse was a good fit for us" and sales from those located near campuses are usually much higher than those not, Jessica said. As a result, the University of Michigan setting was a perfect fit, she said.
The restaurant occupies the former White Market space, and the Hammonds have totally transformed the small-town grocery. The firehouse motif is everywhere. Fire equipment hangs from the wall, next to firefighter coats. A colorful fire truck mural decorates another wall. Complimentary firefighter hats sit at the cash register.
There's one big open, bright space where you queue up to wait for your sandwiches, which servers bring to the table. There are enough seats for 45 to 50 diners.
One of the neatest touches is the freestyle soda machine, which has a touchscreen and uses software from Apple to create what Jessica Hammond called "the iPod of soda machines." It provides 129 flavors of soda and water.
609 E. William St., Ann Arbor
- Hours: 10 a.m.-10 p.m. every day. During the academic year, the restaurant may be open later.
- Plastic: Visa, Mastercard, American Express, Discover.
- Liquor: None
- Prices: Inexpensive. Subs are in the $6 to $8 range.
- Value: Very good.
- Noise level: Medium
- Wheelchair access: Yes
The pervasive theme of the sandwiches we sampled was wet. The veggie was drenched in Italian dressing and mayonnaise. Mayonnaise also blanketed the chicken salad and tuna salad. The turkey in the smoked turkey breast sandwich, and the meats in the Italian—Genoa salami, pepperoni and ham—tasted processed. The Italian also suffered from far too much Italian dressing.
I wanted to make sure I sampled a big enough variety of the meat subs, so I made one more late-night stop to order the corned beef brisket sandwich. I'm glad I did, since it was, hands down, the best of all the subs we tried. The meat was perfectly cooked, well seasoned and delicious.
The sub rolls resembled those that you would purchase in a package at the grocery store, though the whole-wheat version was far better — soft, sweet and delicious.
The chef salad is the only salad offered. It was basic, yet healthful, with fresh greens. A half sliced hard-boiled egg sat in the middle and was surrounded by fresh ingredients: bell pepper, cucumber, red onion, tomato and ample slivers of provolone cheese. It came without dressing, nor was any provided.
The chili was solid, a thick, hearty offering with plenty of beans. However, it could have used some crackers on the side.
Our sandwiches were delivered promptly by pleasant servers.
Firehouse offers cookies and brownies from David's Cookies. The chocolate chip and lemon cooler cookies were excellent, soft, thick and chewy. But the brownie was very dry.
Firehouse offers the same type of food, both in quality and price, that you would find at Subway. I didn't find it particularly remarkable, but on my second visit, a University of Michigan student was in my dining party. She raved about her turkey bacon ranch sandwich and didn't seem to mind the excess mayo or the barely discernible pieces of bacon. The restaurant may indeed find a niche with the student audience.
Julie Halpert reviews restaurants for AnnArbor.com.