On September 23, the University of South Carolina and the International Institute for Foodservice Research and Education welcomed the chief operating officer of Firehouse Subs, Don Fox , to speak to a group of undergraduate and graduate students in the Hotel, Restaurant, and Tourism Management school. Fox explained that Firehouse Subs, founded by firefighters in Jacksonville, Florida, is a family oriented, fast-casual restaurant chain. He also discussed the successful relationship between franchisees and the franchisor specifically within the 375-unit Firehouse Subs business.

Fox has 30 years of experience in the quick-service segment of the restaurant business. He worked with Burger King for 23 years in the research and development area, where he gained first-hand experience introducing new products such as the “BK Broiler.” Having started out in an entry-level position with Six Flags Amusement Parks, he grew the Firehouse Subs franchise by being able to directly relate to operations and the franchise owners that are the impetus behind the brand.

Also in attendance to speak were franchisee operators Charles and Judy Divita. The couple has opened a total of five restaurants in the Columbia area since joining Firehouse Subs in 2003. They took the time to explain the relationship between franchisees and the franchisor from the franchisee perspective. Their locations have earned such awards as “Business Partner of the Year” by the Lexington County School District and also “Franchisee of the Year” by Firehouse Subs.

Don Fox and the Divitas provided many examples of the services provided by the franchise system in Firehouse Subs and definitely gave Professor Robin DiPietro’s HRTM 576-Hospitality Franchising class many examples of pros and cons of franchising in general and in this current economic time as well.

The Lodging Lecture Series was developed by Instructor Kiran Shah and Professors Sheryl F. Kline and Brumby McLeod in the School of Hotel, Restaurant, and Tourism Management at the University of South Carolina as a way to better prepare students for their futures in the hotel, restaurant, and tourism industries, and to introduce them to successful individuals in their general fields of interest.