The Togo’s shop in Sparks.
Dave Erickson grew up on Togo’s sandwiches.
The Hewlett-Packard engineer lived in the South Bay area and attended San Jose State for college – the same path followed by Togo’s founder Mike Cobler, who opened his first sandwich shop in 1971 near the San Jose State campus.
After Erickson married and had kids, the family moved to Granite Bay, Calif. His children followed the tradition of enjoying sandwiches at Togo’s. It's one of the main reasons why Erickson is slated to open the first Togo’s franchise in Northern Nevada in the last decade.
“No offense to the sandwiches that are here, but they can’t hold a candle to Togo’s,” Erickson told NNBW in a telephone interview last week. “We got to talking about it as a family, and we thought, ‘Wouldn’t it be great if we could bring one to Nevada.’ I approached Togo’s and they were really interested.”
Dave EricksonErickson’s timing was fortuitous – Togo’s was eager to re-enter the Northern Nevada market, said John Dyer, vice president of franchise sales and real estate for Togo’s. The chain opened two shops in Southern Nevada late last year, and Northern Nevada presents an excellent opportunity for Togo’s to further expand its Nevada footprint, Dyer added. The chain expects to have a minimum of 10 eateries open in the region in the next five years or so.
“The bulk of our restaurants are in California – we have about 180 restaurants open or in development,” Dyer said. “We have had a ton of people relocate to the Northern Nevada market, and we are routinely getting feedback through our social media and the company website from folk in the Reno market begging us to open in Reno.
“They are surprised when they move up there that they don’t find us in the market,” he added. “We have a lot of loyal (customers) that grew up on the brand in California and are now in Nevada, and they are demanding that we establish a presence (there).”
Outlying markets such as Fernley, Fallon, Carson Valley, Carson City, Winnemucca and Elko could eventually see an additional five to 10 locations, Dyer noted. Togo’s also is open to bringing on new Northern Nevada franchisees, he added.
“It would be great if we could find an operator of another concept who is familiar with operating other restaurants and is looking to diversify in the Greater Northern Nevada market,” Dyer said. “We hope Dave (Erickson) is just scratching the surface of Togo’s development in Northern Nevada.”
John DyerErickson plans to open his first store at D’Andrea Marketplace. Although the space formerly housed a Subway, it’s been completely gutted since that store closed. Lepori Construction will handle tenant improvements in an expected 60- to 70-day buildout, Erickson said. The Sparks location should be open by mid second quarter, and his franchise agreement calls for him to have two additional locations up and running 18 months apart, he added.
Erickson plans on opening additional Togo’s eateries in South Meadows and northwest Reno. Investment costs to open a single shop run between $216,500 and $451,000, with an initial franchise fee of $30,000. Erickson said Nevada State Bank provided financing for the venture.
The biggest challenge overcome so far, Erickson said, was getting through the City of Sparks permitting process during the COVID-19 pandemic and finding a contractor with the availability to handle tenant improvements. Erickson said he held out for Lepori Construction due to the company’s long-standing reputation in the region.
Rising costs for goods are another issue altogether.
“With all the constraints on supply chains, costs just keep going up,” Erickson said.
Togo’s distributes goods to franchise locations from a central warehouse in Livermore, Calif. Dyer said he doesn’t expect many issues getting delivery trucks over the Sierra in inclement weather.
“Supply chain is difficult all over, but we don’t anticipate any long-term disruptions in our ability to get product up there,” he said. “We opened two stores in the Las Vegas market late last year, and we experienced some challenges getting product down there, but it’s all been worked through.”
The restaurant business is a new venture for Erickson. His son will manage the family’s Togo's operations.
“We are really excited to bring a different sandwich option for Reno and Sparks,” Erickson said. “We think a lot of people will enjoy the change, and the people from California that grew up on it will enjoy the new avenue for really awesome sandwiches, soups and wraps.”