Firehouse Subs is a chain with nearly 700 restaurants, but the one in Fairview Heights has developed a relationship with local firefighters.
Walk in the door and the first thing you see is a Fairview Heights Fire Department uniform and boots.
"All the photos (on the walls) are from Fairview Heights fires," said Scott Stoner, 39, of Columbia, who owns the franchise with his fiancee, Tammy Conner. "I asked them if I could blow them up."
A giant mural shows a Fairview Heights fire truck with the Gateway Arch and Scott Air Force Base tower in the background. A child sits in the driver's seat while three others play with hoses.
The children are patterned off Scott's daughter, Dakota, 15, and her twin brother, Taylor; and Tammy's sons Dylan, 8, and Kyle, 10.
"Every (Firehouse Subs restaurant) has a mural like this," Scott said. "The company has its own painters who do all of them."
The firefighter theme continues with fire-engine red decor, black-and-white Dalmatian-spotted tables, helmets, axes and other gear.
People can get any sandwich "fully involved" (with the works). A shelf holds 50 kinds of hot sauce for customers who want to give their subs the five-alarm treatment.
"My favorite sandwich probably is the Hook and Ladder," Scott said. "It has honey ham, smoked turkey and Monterey Jack cheese."
Scott and Tammy opened the Firehouse Subs in Fairview Heights last year and another one in Granite City last month. They also own franchise rights to future locations in Edwardsville and Brentwood, Mo.
Scott is a former district manager for Dent Wizard for 12 years, and Tammy still works as vice president of finance for that company.
"I always wanted to get into the restaurant business," Scott said. "I like working with people. I'm a people person."
Scott and Tammy became interested in Firehouse Subs partly because of its community involvement.
The chain was started in 1994 by two firefighters in Jacksonville, Fla. It maintains a public safety fund and gives grants to fire departments in need.
Scott and Tammy also liked the chain's reputation for quality food.
"Everything is fresh," Scott said. "The meats are sliced daily. They're piled high on the sandwiches, and the meats and cheeses are steamed together."
Alyssa Haas, 18, of Belleville, is a regular at the Fairview Heights location with her dad, Scott Haas.
On a recent weekday, she brought a friend, Noor Musa.
"I don't eat meat, except for seafood," said Alyssa, a college student. "So I always get the tuna sandwich. It's got mayonnaise and mustard. I just like the ingredients, and the bread is toasted."
The restaurant also has a Coca-Cola Freestyle machine, which allows people to choose from 120 beverages with the press of a button, including different flavors of soda, lemonade and fruit punch.
Kayla Helfrich, 22, of Fairview Heights, has used the futuristic-looking machine, but she stuck with ice tea on her last visit.
"I like this place a lot," she said. "Their sandwiches are good, and they are really nice and friendly every time you come in."
At a glance
What: Firehouse Subs
Where: 5909 N. Illinois in Fairview Heights and 3214 Nameoki Road in Granite City
Hours: 10:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily
Information: 618-234-3400 or 618-451-6600 or FirehouseSubs.com
On the menu
Hook and Ladder Sub -- Smoked turkey breast, Virginia ham, melted Monterey Jack cheese, lettuce, tomato, onion and a Kosher dill spear, $5.89
Firehouse Meatball -- Italian meatballs, melted provolone, zesty marinara and Italian seasonings, $5.89
Smokehouse Beef and Cheddar Brisket -- Beef brisket smoked for 16-plus hours with melted Cheddar and special sauces, $6.19
Firehouse Steak and Cheese -- Sauteed sirloin steak, melted provolone, onions and bell peppers, $5.99
Chef's Salad -- Blend of romaine and iceberg lettuce topped with bell pepper, cucumber, red onion, tomato, provolone, sliced egg and choice of meat, $5.99