Los Angeles-Chain competitors Jimmy John's Gourmet Sandwich Shops and Cousins Subs are preparing to expand in Southern California. But some California operators are questioning how many more sandwich concepts could slice into the seemingly packed markets of Greater Los Angeles and San Diego.

Veteran San Diego-area restaurateur Jeff Warfield, president and chief executive of the 50-unit Submarina franchise chain, said he has found faster growth in Riverside County, east of Los Angeles, where national brands do not yet have the same foothold as in more densely populated metropolitan areas.

While Jimmy John's and Cousins Subs prepare their local debuts and sandwich specialist Panera Bread gauges early results of its brand's recent debut in the Los Angeles area, both Subway and Quiznos Sub have been among the rival chains filling out Southern California. Subway now lists more than 900 sites in operation or under development in Los Angeles, Orange and San Diego counties alone, spokesman Les Winograd said. That number dwarfs the entire systems of most other sub sandwich brands, including 220-unit Jimmy John's, which operates in 20 states, and 177-unit Cousins Subs, which does business in 10 states.

Currently, the only Jimmy John's store in California is a separately franchised outlet in Clovis, near Fresno. Cousins Subs' area developer, MWD Foodservices Inc., intends to grow its holdings in and around Los Angeles to four units by year-end, president Marshall Wexler said. He operates a training store in the Los Angeles suburb of Van Nuys and has signed single-unit franchises whose outlets are expected to open by year-end in the other local suburbs of Encino, Chatsworth and Santa Clarita. Two other franchised units would open in the first quarter of 2004, he said. -Nation's Restaurant News

Houston-Crescent City Beignets, the authentic New Orleans café, will bring three new restaurants to the Lakeland, Tampa and Brandon areas of Florida. Christy Barks signed a multiunit franchise development agreement with Crescent City Beignets to be the franchisee of these restaurants and plans on opening one restaurant a year for three years. -Fransmart