Updated April 8, 2022 - 12:05 pm
A California culinary favorite is growing across Southern Nevada, and two entrepreneurs are laying the foundation.
Togo’s sandwich shop has nearly 200 locations open or under development and has a goal of expanding upon its two Las Vegas Valley locations in the coming years, according to the company.
The valley’s first Togo’s sandwich shop arrived in September at 1500 N. Green Valley Parkway. The second opened at 6435 S. Rainbow Blvd. in November.
The Green Valley Parkway location is the first of what the company anticipates will be several new Nevada locations in Reno and Las Vegas.
Togo’s has discussed expanding outside of California “for quite some time,” said John Dyer, vice president of franchise sales and real estate.
“The Las Vegas market is an exciting one for tourists, locals and businesses alike, and it truly presents a one-of-a-kind opportunity for our brand,” Dyer said in a release discussing the opening of the Green Valley Parkway spot. He couldn’t be reached for further comment.
Togo’s fans happy
The nostalgia of growing up and eating Togo’s in the Bay Area proved powerful enough to drive Wayne Bauer and Makea Macaluso to open their own shops in the valley.
“I was kind of tired of only getting Togo’s every time I went to California,” Bauer said Thursday.
Just four visits a year wasn’t enough, he said. Bauer, 51, opened the Henderson store around Labor Day weekend, and a wave of customers came once the Togo’s sign was up and illuminated.
Those first few weeks were hectic, he said, especially as he was opening a new store with new staff who lacked another local Togo’s at which to train. But business was booming, driven primarily by California transplants who loved and recognized the brand.
Customers drove — and still drive — from across the valley to get their Togo’s fix, Bauer said.
“People were taking pictures of them in front of the menu” that first month or so, he said, “(sending photos) to their friends going, ‘Hey, they’re here in town.’ And others would come and go, ‘My friends told me they were here. I didn’t believe it.’”
Business started to calm when Macaluso opened the Rainbow location, he said. Bauer now has plans to open shops near Mountain’s Edge and Summerlin over the next couple of years.
‘A no-brainer for me’
Macaluso and her husband consider themselves to be entrepreneurs, and franchising was a natural step for them, she said. Macaluso first had her eyes on a pizza shop such as Little Caesars before deciding on Togo’s.
“It was just like a no-brainer for me,” Macaluso said.
After all, Togo’s is where Macaluso met her husband. He was behind the counter; she was on break from her job at KFC across the street. It was his first job, and hers, too.
Macaluso, 38, moved to Las Vegas in 2003 to live closer to her mother and try something new. She added “franchise owner” to her list of titles, which include Realtor and apartment building owner, not to mention mother of two.
The process came together quickly for her Togo’s shop. Macaluso reached out to the Togo’s company in March last year and signed her lease that June.
Her husband leveraged his apartment connections to hire contractors for the store’s build-out, Macaluso said. She opened her doors in a former Port of Subs location in November.
The store made about $1,000 a day when it first opened, she said. Lately, the store makes $2,500 to $3,800 a day — all with no advertising and simply word-of-mouth business, she said.
Macaluso’s franchising agreement allows her to open two more shops. She said she is considering sites and is looking for ones “that have that feeling,” like the one she had while examining the Rainbow spot for the first time.
Macaluso said there was some risk in opening a California chain in Las Vegas, but so far, it’s paid off. She said customers frequently share their own memories of visiting a Togo’s shop in California, and often thank her for opening a store in Las Vegas.
The franchise owner said she was excited to introduce a part of her childhood to her own children. Her 4-year-old son is now a big fan of the No. 3, a turkey and cheddar sandwich.
“When we would go to other sandwich places, he would only eat the insides. He really likes our white bread, so he eats the whole thing,” said Macaluso, whose favorite is the No. 24, a turkey and avocado sandwich.