When you step into Firehouse Subs just over the border in Elm Grove at 15280 W. Bluemound Road, you realize it's aptly named, as a smoky aroma is one of the first things you notice.
"That would be the beef brisket," said Eric Erwin, a representative with the sandwich chain. "We have it smoked and shipped to our stores, where it's sliced fresh."
The process of making the sub sandwiches also involves steaming, which Erwin and store owner Sara Benedetto say help to release the flavor while keeping the meat moist. It also makes a person really hungry while waiting for their sandwich to be "rescued" (after the bread is toasted), then "dispatched."
Benedetto's brother Massimo, who is a cardiologist still living in Italy, said "I had been looking to purchase a business with someone, and realized that person was within my own family."
He explained that he and his sister were sold on the concept of the restaurant, and its outreach to the community's fire departments, saying, "I'm not just selling food here, which was important to us."
Adorning the inside of the restaurant are artifacts from the local fire departments in Brookfield and Elm Grove. One picture from the City of Brookfield was taken specifically for the restaurant, Benedetto said.
In return, the restaurant collects money in a donation jar at the registers for its Public Safety Foundation, a charitable arm that helps local police, fire and EMS to stay supplied with life-saving equipment, educational tools and financial resources. Customers can also 'round up' their purchase for the cause, which is dear to the hearts of the chain's founders, Chris and Robin Sorenson, who were both fire fighters. The foundation was started in 2005, inspired by the need that arose after Hurricane Katrina.
"We're looking forward to meeting the community," Benedetto said on Tuesday, the restaurant's first day of operation, "and we're especially excited to becoming involved throughout the year, especially in October for Fire Safety Month."
As for the food, sandwiches are toasted, and cold sandwiches and salads can also be catered. Prices are $5.79-$6.09 and include meats like turkey, ham, corned beef and pastrami among others.
For those of you particular about what you drink, they also feature a Coca-Cola "Freestyle" machine that serves about 120 different kinds of beverages.
The restaurant is open from 10:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. seven days a week. View a menu here.