Quiznos is testing a new concept called Zeps Epiq Sandwiches.
The Denver-based chain earlier this month opened Zeps in the same space as the previous test concept Quiznos Grill, which the company launched last year to explore the notion of a more-elevated version of the toasted-sub sandwich brand.
Susan Lintonsmith, Quiznos’ president and CEO, said customer response to Quiznos Grill was positive, but guests were a bit confused by the name.
“They’d come in expecting a traditional Quiznos,” she said. “Once they got it, they loved the food and the environment. But they were confused initially.”
So the company decided to close Quiznos Grill last month and rework the space with a new décor and logo as Zeps, with the tagline: “Adventure on Bread.”
The name is based on the word zeppelin, another name for a long sub sandwich. The misplaced Q in “Epiq” is a subtle nod to Quiznos, she said.
“We just loved the word epic, especially for a Millennial audience, it means extremely awesome,” she said.
The new Zeps also has a “proudly Coloradan” theme, said Lintonsmith, but keeps the same strategy of Quiznos Grill. “We’re constantly challenging ourselves to elevate the sandwich and meet a higher standard of deliciousness,” she said.
The menu makes reference to specific Colorado locations, like the North Denver Dipper (pepperoni, ham, mozzarella, roasted peppers, sautéed onions and garlic aioli on a baguette with spicy marinara dipping sauce); the Boulderite (falafel, feta, hummus, roasted red pepper, cucumber, tomato, romaine, minted yogurt on baguette); and the Breckenridge Bourbon Steak Dip (grilled steak, cheddar, mushrooms, caramelized onions in a bourbon sauce with horseradish and au jus for dipping).
Some items, like a Korean cheesesteak and an Italian sub, carry over from the Quiznos Grill menu, but with “Epiq” added to the name.
The primary difference from a traditional Quiznos is that the food at Zeps is prepared from scratch in-house, including sauces and some proteins, said Lintonsmith. “We’re house roasting the turkey. We’re cooking and baking and prepping. We changed the breads. The menu has a lot more variety.”
Zeps added more vegetarian options, as well as two all-day breakfast sandwiches, like the Denver omelet sandwich on grilled sourdough, and the Green Mountain eggs and ham with Hatch green chiles on grilled sourdough with pork-green-chile sauce for dipping.
Potato chips are made in house, and Zeps also has added tater tots, available in flavors like truffle or bloody Mary mix.
Zeps also has more local craft beer on the menu, as well as some wine options like the local Infinite Monkey.
Quiznos Grill was slightly higher in price that the traditional Quiznos with a guest check about $1.50 to $2 more. Zeps is similar in pricing to the Grill, but there is more of a range of menu price entry points, said Lintonsmith.
Guests can get out with a curried chicken salad and soup for around $5.50, for example, but the Breckenridge Bourbon Steak Dip is $12.
Lintonsmith said the company plans to watch how Zeps performs and work on simplifying operations with the goal of being able to offer the concept to franchisees. But it’s too early to say whether the company will move forward with the brand.
So far, the response has been great, said Lintonsmith. “We still only have a temporary sign up, but, even with the cold temperatures, we’ve had lines out the door.”
Contact Lisa Jennings at [email protected]
Follow her on Twitter: @livetodineout
All photos courtesy of Zeps