The Grewal Family Franchises Together and Thrives Together

Meet two generations of Subway franchisees, who can tell you what it's like to grow up in -- and then take on -- the family business.

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By Carly Okyle

Courtesy of the Grewal family
The Grewal family

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Franchise: Subway

Franchisee Location (s): Hardy Grewal, 60, is Subway's largest U.S. development agent and a Subway franchise owner since 1989. He is in partnership with his nephew, Bob, 38, who became an official franchisee in 2002, and his sons, Jesse, 29, and Shawn, 24. Combined, they have more than 2,100 restaurants in Los Angeles and Orange County, Washington, D.C, part of Maryland, the whole state of Virginia and Southwestern Ontario, Canada.

Number of years in business/No. of employees: Shawn for 5 months, Bob for 14 years; Hardy for 27 years and Jesse for 11 years.

Related: The Top 20 Fast-Food Franchises of 2016

The Grewals oversee their employees together, with workers responsible for different aspects of the business. On the development agent side, they oversee about 100 employees, and they have approximately 650 employees as franchisees.

Initial investment: The franchise fee for North America is $15,000. Hardy initially invested $70,000 in 1989 for a new restaurant, the family believes today's cost hovers between $200,000 and $250,000.

Subway's $5 footlong deal began in 2008, but by that time, the restaurant had been in the Grewal family for nearly 20 years. Hardy Grewal, now 60, bought the first of his sub shop franchise locations in 1989 after years as an accountant and controller.

Related: Soon, Your Subway Sandwich Will Contain Antibiotic-Free Meat

"My good friend owned a Subway franchise," he says. "I looked at his financials and it just made sense. It was at that moment I realized that it was a profitable business and investment."

His nephew Bob, 38, agreed, as did his sons Shawn, 24, and Jesse, 29. Each of those boys would eventually become franchisees for the sandwich purveyor and deepened their connections to the company by becoming development agents or field consultants -- but not without learning about the workings of the company from jobs there first. "I would work in the back while I was growing up and then helped out throughout the years," Bob says. Jesse describes a similar experience, saying, "I started working as an employee during summer vacations in high school sweeping floors, and as I gained more experience, I was given more responsibilities."

While Jesse admits to picking up some managerial knowledge through osmosis -- having family in the industry has its advantages, after all -- the boys all put work in to ensure their franchises' success. Bob, for instance, decided to live next door to his first location and work 15-hour days while making sure to "attend every meeting that was ever held" and have conversations with other franchisees. This saved him time solving problems. "The funny thing is that, whatever problems that I had, those had been solved by others in the past," he says.

There are always challenges, though. For Hardy, the challenge was to find a good location, one with good visibility. Jesse says the biggest obstacle for him was finding employees that would become a solid team.

The hardships were worth it. They plan to expand their business and are looking into getting involved with real estate. "I truly believe that the opportunities are endless," says Shawn. "I am excited to see what the future holds."

Even if the industry changes, and no matter what happens with their various Subway locations, family is forever.

For more information: Subway

Related: 7 Major Restaurants That Are Getting Rid of Artificial Ingredients

Carly Okyle

Assistant Editor, Contributed Content

Carly Okyle is an assistant editor for contributed content at

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