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The Happy Customer Index

How marijuana themed sandwich chain Cheba Hut creates a vibe embraced by all

CEO Marc Torres shares how the brand has created an experience that’s won over more than just cannabis fans.


The theme at Cheba Hut may seem like a joke. Founded in Arizona in 1998, the concept is themed around marijuana, with strong cannabis innuendos included throughout its branding and restaurants. (The menu? Toasted subs, of course.)

What’s not a joke is how successful the concept has been. Twenty-four years on, Cheba Hut has grown to 50 locations all over the country, with its sights set on 200 by 2030.

That success is grounded in the fact that Cheba Hut has a strong focus on quality sandwiches, served in restaurants with a full bar — thus making it a strong option for both lunch and dinner. And the restaurants don’t serve any marijuana-related products, so it’s a destination for cannabis fans and non-fans alike.

Marc Torres, Cheba Hut’s CEO, credits the company’s strong relationships with franchisees and employees for creating a vibe that can be universally embraced — even if the product at the core of the theme is not supported by all customers.

Torres joined the latest episode of Take-Away with Sam Oches to talk about how Cheba Hut embraces the marijuana theme without putting anyone off, how its labor requirements are even more stringent than most restaurants, and why it’s so important for companies to let franchisees think outside the box.

In this episode you’ll find out why:

  • If you paddle way out ahead of a trend wave, you can ride it to big things
  • You don’t have to hit your customers over the head with your theme
  • Franchise brands can lean into corporate growth to maintain momentum
  • Let your franchisees color outside the lines a bit
  • Your employees are as much a part of your vibe as your product, décor and branding
  • The interaction with your guest is more important than the transaction

Contact Sam Oches at [email protected].

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