Sometimes as a quick-serve franchisee you get the chance to impact a local community in a big way. That was the case when Eugene, Oregon, local John Anderson melded his two family businesses, food and fuel, to put green energy at the center of both.

Anderson opened the first Togo’s restaurants in his town two years ago, bringing the brand’s premium pastrami, turkey, and roast beef sandwiches to locals. Concurrently, Anderson and his family were investing in opening the state’s first public-access compressed natural gas (CNG) fueling station. Naturally, when Anderson sought a vehicle for Togo’s delivery operation, it had to be a car that could run on CNG.

 “Our family has been in fuel since the ‘30s, and we’d also been in the restaurant business since the mid ‘70s,” Anderson says. “A few years ago, I started hearing about compressed natural gas, and people were excited about it. Energy is an issue in our nation.”

The Togo’s delivery vehicle looks like any other, runs just as well, and did not require a large invested for conversion. Anderson says the delivery vehicle can run on traditional gas as well, but running on CNG emits about 30 percent less greenhouse gases, a claim supported by research from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

“It costs us about 10 cents a mile less to run on natural gas, so it’s economically cheaper,” he says. That’s big savings in the quick-serve business, which usually operates on tight margins.

CNG isn’t widely available, and very few fuel stations in the U.S. that offer it are available to the public, but Anderson says it’s popularity is on the rise.

“This is going to be the future of fuel,” he says.

By Tamara Omazic

Fast Casual, News, Sandwiches, Togo's