Firehouse Subs To Open At Former Exxon Property In October
A month after Jeff Lepow leased the former Exxon property at the corner of Bellaire Boulevard and Bissonnet, he thought it was burning down when a friend called and told him the parking lot was filled with fire trucks. He rushed to the site to discover that West U. firefighters were just parking their fire trucks there while collecting for the annual “Fill the Boot” campaign.
Lepow thought it was a perfect coincidence, as he plans to open a Firehouse Subs restaurant at that location in October.
“I thought that was a really, really cool thing,” said Lepow, who hopes to become actively involved in the community and West U. Fire Department through his franchise.
Firehouse Subs, based in Jacksonville Florida, supports fire departments locally and nationally through charities.
“I would like to get involved with the schools and with the local fire department, obviously,” said Lepow, who has asked WUFD for memorabilia such as boots and jackets to display in his store. All Firehouse Subs are required to have a mural depicting firefighters displayed in each store, and Lepow took photos of West U. fire trucks and emblems to be incorporated into his store’s mural.
Lepow took a roundabout path into the restaurant franchise business. After deciding to follow in his father and uncles’ footsteps and become a podiatrist, Lepow moved from the Houston area to Cleveland, Ohio for a 5-year program. In the fourth year, he realized that it wasn’t for him, and went a totally different direction.
After working with a Cleveland restaurant on the idea of franchising the concept, Lepow moved back to Houston with the plan of opening a location here. It didn’t work out, and he had a brief moment of panic.
“We came here, did all the things we were supposed to do, we were ready, and they couldn’t get it done,” said Lepow, who began scouring the franchise market for another opportunity.
When he came across Firehouse Subs, his father called up a friend in Florida and asked about the restaurant.
“He said they were the best,” said Lepow, who then visited one of the five locations in the Houston area.
“I took a look and fell in love with it,” said Lepow.
Lepow, a Meyerland whose mother grew up in West U. and attended West U. Elementary, now owns the West U., Medical Center, Rice Village and Reliant Stadium territories. The West U. location will be his first location, but he is already in the process of finding a lease near Reliant Stadium.
Lepow said the most difficult aspect of his territory is the price and rarity of available properties. He says one of the things he likes most about the West U. location is that it is a freestanding location, unlike most of the franchises located in strip centers.
He says he was slightly concerned about Bellaire Boulevard construction, but then decided it could be a bonus as traffic congestion causes drivers to move slowly by his location.
Lepow is planning on a late October opening.
“The residents in West University really support the firemen,” said Lepow. “I have been talking with the foremen about getting them out there for the opening day, to be there when we first open.”