Lenny's News and Interviews

Houston Chronicle - Moneymakers

August 06, 2007


Five questions with Len Moore
A big helping of service is part of sub chain's concept

The man behind Lenny's Sub Shop could have quietly retired after he sold a majority stake in the Memphis, Tenn.-based business he founded in 2004.

Instead, Len Moore and longtime friend Tom Clatterbuck packed up and came to Houston with an ambitious plan of opening 90 stores.

Moore brought along his wife Sheila, son Brian, daughter Christi Thoms and son-in-law Justin. Together they've made Houston the fastest-growing market in the 140-store chain.

Since opening the first local shop in The Woodlands in 2005, Moore's franchise has grown to 16 stores with locations in Houston, Pearland, Conroe, Katy, Sugar Land, Humble, Spring and Webster. By year's end, 28 stores should be open here.

Having grown up in New Castle, Del., just outside of Philadelphia, Moore knows subs. He's worked in restaurants his whole life with Chick-fil-A, TGI Friday's, Olive Garden and Ruby Tuesday on his résumé. He founded Lenny's Sub Shop to fund college for his children in 1998.

Moore spoke with the Chronicle's Katherine Feser about sandwiches and service.

Q: What's the concept of a Lenny's sub?

A: It's great food, served in a clean restaurant, with excellent caring service every time. It's a very simple little concept with a whole lot of thought put into it.

We bake our bread fresh. We slice everything fresh to order. We really focus on the service end of the business as well, which I think is something you don't see much of anymore. Most places are "get them in and get them out." We still focus on the people part of the business.

Q: You have an aggressive expansion plan. How do you go about selecting real estate?

A: One location at a time. We look real hard first and foremost at the traffic counts. We look for at least 20,000 cars a day going past our front doors. The second thing we look for is very good visibility from the street. Seventy percent of our volume is driven by daytime sales. We look for a minimum number of daytime businesses within a mile of the restaurant.

Q: Does your menu address the low-carb craze?

A: As someone with 35 years in the restaurant business, I have watched a lot of restaurants go after the most recent craze or trends.

We have a very good low-carb offering. People that are interested in doing low carbs will find things on our menu that will work well for them like our salads. Our Philly cheese steak salad with dressing is only 3 carbs. A lot of people will take subs and remove the roll, and have them almost like a salad.

A lot of our meats are 97 to 99 percent fat-free — our ham, turkey and roast beef. We have a lot of healthy choices on our menu. People who are on a diet can always find something.

Q: How does your pricing compare with that of your competitors?

A: I think we're very value driven. Would I say that our sub shop is the cheapest out there? Absolutely not. I think we have the best value-to-price ratio out there.

A lot of our competition averages anywhere from about 2.5 ounces to 5 ounces on a large sandwich. Our large subs are 15 inches. Our Philly cheese steak has over a pound of meat and cheese on it. Our sandwiches are huge.

The average person that comes in probably spends about $7 on a sandwich, chips, cookie and drink.

Q: What's your favorite sandwich?

A: It depends. If I'm having a cold sub, I strongly recommend the Italian. It probably offers the broadest flavor profile of all of our sandwiches. It's got provolone cheese, three types of ham, Genoa salami, and then of course all the fixings — onions, lettuce, tomatoes, olive oil, salt, pepper, pickles, oregano and our hot diced cherry peppers.

If I'm having a hot sandwich, then you can't beat the Philly cheese steak. I think we do an authentic Philly cheese steak. We make every one from scratch, and they are delicious.

The menu we have today is the exact same menu that we had nine years ago when we opened.

We have chosen to do a few things very well. We do not run around trying to be everything to everybody. We really focus on our primary menu items, and we make sure we do the very best sandwich we can do.

Contact Lenny's Public Relations:

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