BLOOMINGTON — Joe Ferguson hopes customers feel the industrial Midwest the moment they walk into a Cousins Subs.
"We recently rolled out our interior design that's called 'Milwaukee Sub Shop' and has a focus on industrial materials local to the Midwest and the Milwaukee area," said Ferguson, vice president of business development for the Menomonee Falls, Wis.-based chain.
"We're a traditional sub shop from a sense of offering deli-fresh sandwiches, but the biggest thing that differentiates us is the grilled product" like cheese steaks — plus fried cheese curds and shakes. "We think it could be a great fit for Bloomington."
Ferguson envisions a new building near Eastland Mall with 15 to 25 employees and 35 to 50 seats, plus a drive-thru. Cousins stores are typically between 1,800 and 2,400 square feet.
"We think it's naturally a contiguous market to the Chicago development, and Bloomington is really a natural way for us to go south to St. Louis," said Ferguson.
A typical Cousins order ranges from $8 to $12 depending on sides, he said.
"Our standard subs range from $5.99 to $7.99 for our limited-time-only sandwiches," said Ferguson. "Those tend to be hearty and a little more creative. We've offered a Cubano and a Wisconsin steak with Johnsonville brats."
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The chain also works with local communities, he said, including giving an annual college scholarship to a Wisconsin high school athlete, working with nearby schools and participating in donation nights for community groups.
"We're really coming off of a strong push to grow with our 40 stores in Chicago, and we feel it's the right time to grow Cousins throughout Illinois," Ferguson said. "We're excited for Bloomington to be part of that."
Other local sub shops include Firehouse Subs, Jersey Mike's, Jimmy John's, Potbelly and Subway.
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