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Wisconsin Favorite Sub Chain Announces 40-Location Chicago Expansion

Cousins Subs is bringing its grilled subs and cheese curds

Cousins Subs
Cousins Subs/Facebook
Ashok Selvam is the editor of Eater Chicago and a native Chicagoan armed with more than two decades of award-winning journalism. Now covering the world of restaurants and food, his nut graphs are super nutty.

Cousins Subs, a chain that’s been around for 46 years with around 100 locations in Wisconsin and Arizona, has announced plans to open many restaurants in Chicago and the surrounding suburbs. Over the next eight years, Cousins hopes to open 40 locations. It’ll start in the Loop this fall at 120 W. Madison Street and then suburban Lombard and Hoffman Estates restaurants due by the end of the year, reported the Tribune.

Italian bread baked on premises and an assortment of chicken and steak subs “grilled to order” are chain staples. In true Wisconsin tradition, customers can complement their meal with an order of cheese curds. It’s not just bags of potato chips like at other sandwich shops. The Chicago expansion represents further rebranding for the franchise which closed more than 40 shops from 2011 to 2016. It exited Minnesota and closed all but four locations outside of Wisconsin.

But those growing pains are seemingly over. The plan in Chicago is to open five or six a year. Other possible suburban locations include Wheaton and St. Charles.

It’s a competitive niche for chain sandwich shops in Chicago. Local favorites include Potbelly Sandwich Works and Hannah’s Bretzel. Newcomers include Jersey’s Mike’s, Firehouse Subs, and Capriotti’s. Though Chicago is loyal to locals, it’s managed to embrace out-of-state businesses. Wisconsin’s Colectivo Coffee has found a niche in Chicago after arriving last year. Now, if only Wisconsin could just send some Spotted Cow down from New Glarus Brewing.