5 Secrets behind our Cheesesteak Franchise Growth

To understand why Penn Station East Coast Subs is a repeat, award-winning cheesesteak franchise[1], you’ll need to understand our past. Jeff Osterfeld opened his first deli, Jeffrey’s Delicatessen, in 1983.

On a trip to Philadelphia, he became inspired by the regionally unique cheesesteak sandwich. He brought these East Coast flavors back and integrated them within his Dayton, Ohio, shop. They were an instant hit. With his deli background and experience in hand, he went on to make a new deli concept two years later, Penn Station East Coast Subs, where the stars of the show would be premium ingredients, cheesesteaks, and a quick-service dining experience.

The sandwich industry was ripe for innovation, and Osterfeld seized the opportunity. Some may say the rest is history, but really a handful of simple secrets make our Philly cheesesteak franchise remarkable for its continued growth.

[1] Franchise Times Top 400 Franchises 2020, FastCasual.com Top 100 Movers & Shakers, 2021

1. Creative Flavor Combos

The taste of South Philly meets a delicious deli concept at Penn Station East Coast Subs. We give our subs a creative spin that keep customers wanting to try more. From Chicken Cordon Bleu to pizza to an artichoke sub and, of course, our Dagwood, our sandwiches are a cut above other sub shops. As a bonus, guests can order most sandwiches cold, grilled, as a wrap or even a salad.

2. Empowering Franchisees

Perhaps the biggest secret to our continued growth as a cheesesteak franchise is our hard-working franchisees. With their restaurant experience, passion for the brand, and commitment to operational excellence, every customer gets not only great service but great food as well. We empower our franchisees to reach their best potential with award-winning training and franchisee support[1]. We skip the fluff and have a focused, four-week franchisee training program. Our support system includes help with site selection, restaurant design and construction, operation, marketing, and more. As we continue to expand the brand, our franchisees are expanding their portfolios. Our growth in 2022 resulted in a ranking by the Franchise Times as a Top 500 Franchise. We believe the support we offer our franchisees and the quality ingredients we use contributed to this growth.

[1] TrainingMag.com 2021 Top 100 Ranking; Most Innovative Employee Retention, June 2021, Franchise Innovation Awards

3. A No-Secrets Approach

When customers head to the counter to order, they see our signature, premium ingredients right in front of their eyes. We like to be upfront with our customers at our cheesesteak franchise by assembling our sandwiches in real-time, directly in front of the customer. This allows for transparency most customers appreciate. In fact, a study from Harvard Business Review titled “Cooks Make Tastier Food When They Can See Their Customers” found when cooks and customers could see each other, customer satisfaction increased by more than 17% and service was more than 13% faster. In a sense, one of our secrets is that we have no secrets.

4. Fresh-Cut Fries

While the star of the show may be the cheesesteak, our fresh-cut fries are no mere sidekick. It’s estimated the potatoes and ketchup Americans eat every year makeup half of their vegetable consumption, according to a report in the Washington Post titled “How much do Americans love French fries and ketchup? A lot more than you think.” The U.S. loves fries, and our customers love our fries. We use only hand-cut Idaho® Potatoes that are flash-fried in cholesterol-free peanut oil. Our fresh-cut fries make the perfect pairing with a lunch or dinner cheesesteak sandwich.

5. Community

We’re dedicated not only to feeding the communities we serve, but helping them as well. We are passionate about our communities and have several philanthropy programs. It’s important to us to be more than a cheesesteak franchise; we want to make a positive impact.

  • National Down Syndrome Adoption Network: Penn Station has been raising funds for the National Down Syndrome Adoption Network (NDSAN) since 2014. Annually, we invite customers to round-up their tickets with proceeds helping the program provide resources, education, support, and more. NDSAN’s mission is to ensure more children with Down Syndrome grow up in loving, caring and supportive homes.
  • Random Acts of Kindness Program: We encourage random acts of kindness everywhere, but especially in schools and in children. When school officials see a random act of kindness, we’re delighted to present a certificate and a reward for Penn Station food for spreading positivity!
  • Fundraisers and Student Athlete Programs: Select Penn Station markets will choose and honor an outstanding seniorstudent, and winners are entered to win a college scholarship. Penn Station locations can also hold fundraiser days for organizations throughout the year.

The Proof is in the Details

Our secret sauce is really every detail we put into every franchise location. As we expand across the U.S., we’re looking for dedicated owners to take on more than a cheesesteak franchise, but a business that makes a difference. To get started with Penn Station, prospective franchisees need to meet the minimum financial requirements of $500,000 net worth and a minimum liquidity of $300,000. Each franchise group must select and/or recruit a qualified managing owner candidate, sometimes referred to as an operating partner, that will be responsible for day-to-day restaurant operations. The managing owner also attends the required four-week training in Cincinnati.

If you’re ready to be part of a dedicated team and open your own restaurant, request information to get started.

The offer of a franchise can only be made through the delivery of a Franchise Disclosure Document. Certain jurisdictions require registration prior to the offer or sale of a franchise. We only offer franchises in jurisdictions where we are registered or are exempt from registration.



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