ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. – A new franchise of the Colorado-based, marijuana-themed sandwich chain Cheba Hut is set to open its first Orlando location on Monday.
The new Cheba Hut is setting up shop at 12100 E. Colonial Drive, not far from the University of Central Florida campus.
This will be the second Cheba Hut location in the state, the first is in St. Augustine, but it will be the first for owner Tim Brashear. Brashear, 48, is originally from Jacksonville, but he has lived in Orlando for the past 20 years.
“While we are a franchise, we’re locally owned,” Brashear said, adding he hopes “folks come out and support us, regardless of how they feel about, you know, marijuana theme, it’s, you know, it’s just a great sandwich, and it’s a laid back environment, and they can come out and have a great time and have a great sandwich.”
Brashear said he has been working to bring Cheba Hut to the Orlando area for the past two years. Those efforts were pushed back by the coronavirus pandemic.
“We’re probably about six months behind from where we anticipated because of the pandemic,” Brashear said. “But I think now is a good time. Vaccines are starting to flow through and, you know, they’re lowering the age groups and I think ... we’ll get open, we’ll work out any kinks we got and be ready when everybody’s vaccinated.”
The owner said he believes in the product — calling them the “best sandwiches that are made today” — but he also thinks the pot-theme will help to carry the business.
“It’s a little bit of a counterculture. Right? I mean, you saw on the website that is marijuana-themed. That’s growing more and more acceptance, especially in Florida,” he said. “We’re not recreational use yet, but we are medicinal use. I think it’s only a matter of time before marijuana becomes recreational use, and we fit right in with that culture.”
The theme is very tongue in cheek with a menu offering “munchies” and beverages deemed “cottonmouth cures.” The subs themselves are also named after different strains of marijuana, like “Panama Red” and “White Widow.”
Brashear feels that Cheba Hut will be a hit with the students at nearby UCF. So much so, he is already looking at expanding the business closer to campus or Downtown Orlando.
“We might fit another one in close to the university. University Drive as an area we’re looking at for future expansion and possibly downtown. Downtown areas easily do good for this brand,” Brashear said.
Ultimately, Brashear said he is committed to opening at least three locations, with plans to have all of them open in the next three to five years. He said he does not have a set timeline or locations for those additional stores.
“Hopefully, we’ve got some pent-up demand out there,” Brashear said ahead of his Monday opening. “It’s getting open, getting our folks comfortable making sandwiches and putting out a great quality product.”