The new Firehouse Subs at the new St. Thomas Square off First Ave. at Redan opened this week, the eighth in a group of SW Ontario stores franchised by Bill Carr, of StT, and partners Phil Dawson and Teresa Cavaliere, of London, who formerly worked for Bill in his family-named local trucking business.

Firehouse was started in 1994 in the U.S. by two firefighting brothers, and Bill and partners opened Canada’s second Firehouse in 2016 in London. Bill says St. Thomas is a move by the company into Ontario’s smaller centres, one that he suggested a couple of years ago, and the local group now has started the build on a ninth location, in Woodstock.

Just like a firetruck, the business has arrived in a big way. Firehouse Subs Public Safety Foundation of Canada already has awarded more than $20,000 to the St. Thomas fire department for training equipment. (The fire service is represented – along with Jumbo and the city’s gateway locomotive – on a mural at the store, part of the signature decor for Firehouse outlets.)

“Giving back to the community is a huge reason why I love being part of the Firehouse Subs family,” Bill is quoted. “My wife (Kayla) is a registered nurse, and I’ve seen how hard our health-care heroes have been working during the pandemic to keep our communities safe.”

The local franchisees and the foundation also partnered earlier this year to supply 200 boxed lunches to front-line health-care workers at STEGH.

The St. Thomas store has opened in the height of the pandemic but like the frontliners they salute, none of the three partners’ stores ever shuttered. They were able to offer take-out, a majority of business even in good times.

Indeed, Bill says, when people asked him why they still opened at this time in St. Thomas, he had an easy reply.

“Why not?”