Froyo to Togo
The first Colorado (and farthest east) location of the San Jose, California-based sandwich chain Togo's (togos.com) has set a target opening date of Oct. 31, in the former Buttercup's Frozen Yogurt space at 27 S. Tejon St.
Two years ago, the 43-year-old company "began a comprehensive effort to grow in new, emerging markets," says senior VP of franchise development Todd Peterson. He adds, "We have to keep growing — many markets in California are at capacity ... and lots of Californians have relocated elsewhere. That's an opportunity for brand awareness."
Togo's is currently at 252 locations (compared to Jimmy John's nearly 2,000 and Subway's 33,000-plus), and Peterson says Springs-based Miller Investment Management has committed to opening five local locations in coming years. Other franchisees will vie for Denver next.
As for how Togo's views itself as different from the other chains: "Our big thing is big, fresh, meaty, over-portioned sandwiches," says Peterson. "We over-deliver on quantity, protein and quality."
Chef Mark Henry recently left his post at the Ivywild School's Meat Locker to take a job assisting with meat processing and sales at Ranch Foods Direct (2901 N. El Paso St., ranchfoodsdirect.com).
"I'll help out with events — we're on great terms," says Henry of his relationship with the Ivywild team. "I love Joe [Coleman], and that company has been a big part of my life for the last five years."
Coleman extends similar praise to Henry. In his absence, Coleman says, the Blue Star Group is "still interested in the production and sourcing of local meat," which for now will continue to be done internally, but on a smaller scale. "I have three chefs who want to butcher meat ... the recipes and way we make [our items] won't change ... we just won't have our own in-house butcher anymore ... the public won't notice anything."
Catch many chances to interact with chef Henry and other local-minded white coats during Local Food Week (cspublicmarket.com/localfoodweek2014), which runs Saturday, Sept. 13, though Sunday, Sept. 21. It's being coordinated this year by Ranch Foods Direct and the folks behind the Colorado Springs Public Market initiative.
The educational event features everything from an Urban Homesteaders Tour and Pikes Peak Urban Gardens' Garlic and Chili Fest (both Sept. 13) to chef dinners, film showings, lectures and seminars and community discussions with key players in the sustainable foods movement. Some events are free, others are paid; visit the website for a full calendar and details.