Lenny's News and Interviews

Memphis Daily News - Lenny's Sub Shops Put On More Financial Girth

September 29, 2006

When it comes to Lenny's Sub Shops, some people are just fanatics. They eat the same thing every time they go, maybe with a slight variation, but always the same thing, company officials say.

Those loyal customers have translated into a business that now is made up of 98 stores in 11 states, with 25 in Memphis.

The 98th Lenny's location opened Friday in Houston, making it the 10th store in that market. The newest Memphis location will open Nov. 1 near the University of Memphis. The store will be next to RP Billiards' bar at 521 S. Highland Ave., and is owned by Memphis-area franchisees Marlin Harris and Edith Kelly-Green.

Also, Lenny's officials recently announced the company had formed an agreement with Eat Subs LLC to open 15 stores in New Mexico. The first store will open in Albuquerque in spring 2007.

"We're growing by leaps and bounds," said George Alvord, CEO of Memphis-based Lenny's Franchisor LLC.

Heidi Lominack has a friend who is one of those people who are just crazy about Lenny's.

"He eats Lenny's every day. He's probably eating Lenny's right now," said Lominack, who was having lunch at Lenny's Downtown in the Falls Building on a recent afternoon.

"He's in love with Lenny's."

Lenny's founder Len Moore is accustomed to hearing things like this about the business that started in 1998 as a single restaurant in Bartlett.

"We kind of have a cult following," said Moore, who is now the company's chairman emeritus. "We have a lot of very loyal Lenny's customers."

A bountiful following

Lenny's restaurants have opened recently in Missouri, Georgia and North Carolina. Stores will open in the coming years in several states, including California, Virginia and Kansas.

Of those stores, 25 are in the Memphis area.

In the next five years, Alvord said he hopes to sell 1,500 Lenny's franchises, and hopes Lenny's will be a nationwide franchise by 2015.

"My goal is to have at least 6,000 (restaurants) open as soon as possible, probably (by) 2012, 2015," Alvord said. "We've got a good formula, and we just want to continue to grow that formula."

Len and Sheila Moore opened the first Lenny's Sub Shop in Bartlett on Stage Road near Appling Road in 1998. Len had no idea what he had started when he and his wife opened what they thought was a one-restaurant business.

"It took off over night, which was amazing," Len said.

By the end of 1998, the Moores had opened five stores in Memphis.

In 2004, Alvord and a group of private investors, which included Moore, bought Lenny's from Len and Sheila.

More than 700 Lenny's franchises have been sold in 18 states since 2001, with hundreds more set to open in the coming years. Len, who now lives in Houston, owns the rights to almost 100 stores in the Houston area.

"The Houston store opened, and it echoed the same success we saw in Memphis," Len said.

Len and his wife initially opened the store as a way to pay for their daughter, Christy's, college education.

In her junior year of high school, Christy was offered the chance to graduate early, an opportunity she couldn't resist, Len said. A year earlier than they had anticipated, Len and his wife were faced with the challenge of paying for college - and an out-of-state one at that. His daughter had been accepted at the school she had always wanted to attend - the University of Texas at Austin.

"My wife and I were going to settle down and work in the store," he said. "Really, all we ever thought we'd do was make a little extra money."

So they opened the Bartlett store, and within a few months it was doing very well, Len said. For the first four months the store was open, sales almost doubled each month.

Soon he and his wife had opened stores all over Memphis. They began selling franchises in 2001.

"It's a very simple concept with a whole lot of thought put into it," he said.

Contact Lenny's Public Relations:

Jenna Duett
Marketing and PR Manager
(901) 753-4002