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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."

The company is looking for a franchisee to bring Cousins to the Twin Cities, and possibly Peoria and Springfield, as part of a wave of expansion that's brought the first Cousins to Chicago and will include another 40 stores in and around the Windy City.

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."

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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Contact Derek Beigh at (309) 820-3234. Follow him on Twitter: @pg_beigh

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