Tag Archives: Cherry Lime-Aid

FOOD PORN FRIDAY: Firehouse Subs

21 Apr
For someone who doesn’t eat all that much meat these days, and  doesn’t  usually even like submarine sandwhiches , my recent feast at Firehouse Subs was nothing short of a full ‘come to Jesus’ conversion.  These were submarine sandwhiches like I’ve never had before. 

I met Robin Sorensen, co-founder of Firehouse Subs and one half of the Sorensen brothers team (brother Chris is the other co-founder) at their Beach Boulevard at Penman Road restaurant in Jacksonville Beach  for a personal walk through their menu. I took along my 14-year-old son, Stuart, a dedicated carnivore, to help me out.

Robin selected several subs for me to try, and I chose another myself that looked tempting. While waiting, one can’t help but notice the line-up of hot sauce bottles on the counter. Each bottle has a large red numbered sticker signifying how hot it is; the higher the number the hotter the sauce, with nine being the hottest.  

A few customer favorites are Back Draft (6) , Liquid Stoopid (8)  Pain 95% (9) and  Captain Sorensen’s Datil Pepper Hot Sauce (5). $5.99 (Disclaimer: These are not rated to any industry standard other than Firehouse’s.)

One thing is obvious when listening to Robin Sorensen talk about his restaurants: he has as much passion today for the quality of his food as he’s ever had. He’s a hands on kind of guy who has been involved in every step of recipe and menu development over the seventeen years Firehouse Subs has been in operation.

Customer Favorite: Hook & Ladder

The No. 1  selling sub at Firehouse is the Hook & Ladder. $5.29  It also won out in a nation-wide contest on the company’s Facebook page. It’s made with smoked turkey breast, Smithfield Ham and melted Monterey Jack cheese. It comes “fully involved,” a firefighting term, meaning all the way with lettuce, tomato, onion, mustard and mayo.  The Hook & Ladder was also my son’s favorite of all the subs we tasted. He’s a big red meat fan and doesn’t like mustard and mayo, so I was quite surprised that he fell in love with the Hook & Ladder.

Hook & Ladder

All sandwhiches also come with Firehouse’s special dill pickle, the very same ones served at the famous Carnegie Deli in New York City. Packed in the Bronx and shipped to Firehouse, the pickles have that great crispness and indeed evoked memories of New York pickles for me.

Robin’s Favorite: New York Steamer

Corned beef brisket, pastrami, melted provolone cheese, mustard, mayo and Italian dressing.  It’s an understatement to say Robin is crazy in love with the New York Steamer. $5.29 It was indeed awesome. Between bites, he stumped me by asking if I knew what animal pastrami comes from. “No one knows!” he says. It’s beef, and definitely worthy of his love.

New York Steamer


My Favorite:  Smokehouse Beef & Cheddar Brisket

If I were a 25-year-old male I would pound these back for breakfast, lunch and dinner. They were that good. Beef brisket smoked for ten hours, melted cheddar and special sauces, including Sweet Baby Ray’s barbecue sauce. $5.49 

Firehouse Subs resolved one of the primary reasons I’ve never been wild about submarine sandwhiches – too much boring bread and not enough sandwhich. Ah, but at Firehouse the bread is oh so soft and becomes one with the sandwhich. Just perfect.

The No. 1 selling chip at Firehouse is Miss Vickie’s Jalepeno potato chips. $1.09  Despite my notoriously wimpy mouth, I bravely tried a few and was pleasantly surprised at the subtleness of the heat. Be forewarned, however, that the heat grows with the more you eat.

Everyone’s Fav:  Firehouse Meatball

Who doesn’t love a meatball sub? $5.29  And this one is goooood. First off, the bread is cut somewhat like a hotdog bun to hold the marinara sauce. And the meatballs have loads of imported Pecorino and Romano cheese in them that makes them soft to melt in your mouth.

Firehouse Meatball

Topped with provolone and Italian seasonings, and baked in the oven rather than heated in a microwave, this baby is addictive.

Firehouse Subs is also the only restaurant in the entire nation to have its very own custom Coca-Cola company blended private label soft drink – it’s Cherry Lime-Aid$2.14  And, it even has its very own logo.  


The drink was personally taste-tested repeatedly by Robin Sorenson at the Coca-Cola headquarters until it tasted exactly like the cherry lime-aid his mom made when he was growing up. It’s an old local favorite whose recipe was easier to get right in the gallon quantity than in the massive quantities they make in Atlanta for the 420 Firehouse Subs restaurants. It is one of the multitude of flavors in the Coke Freestyle fountain that offers more than 100 Coke brand drink mixtures including soft drinks, flavored waters, sports drinks and lemonades. The key to getting the Cherry Lime-Aid just right is to squeeze  into your drink the fresh lime wedges supplied beside the machines. I squeezed four in my small-sized drink.

Robin Sorensen and the Coke Freestyle Fountain

All digital, the Coke Freestyle carries three different Coke Zero brands  – regular Coke Zero, Cherry Coke Zero and Vanilla Coke Zero. Dedicated Coke Zero fans like me are thrilled when a restaurant carries the basic version. I tried the recommended combination of Vanilla Coke Zero and Fanta Orange Zero for the “creamsicle” and found it quite tasty.

A few days later I was craving another Smokehouse Beef & Cheddar Brisket with a Cherry Lime-Aid so I stopped by the Firehouse at Marsh Landing pronto and savored the experience all over again.
Today it hit again , so I combined a trip to the wine store with a Cherry Lime-Aid run.  My neighborhood Firehouse is smack dab beside my wine store. How great is that? Even better, the incredibly friendly woman behind the Firehouse counter gave me my Cherry Lime-Aid totally free, and she surely didn’t know who I was.

Can it bet any better? Only one way – if there were a Zero version of this awesome cherry stuff.  Just say’n.

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