Two is Better Than One: Meet U.S. Air Force Veterans and Husband-Wife Franchisee Duo Robert and Cindy Callaway

In honor of Veterans Day on November 11, we are recognizing and honoring some of our Firehouse Subs franchisees who selflessly served their nation in the United States military. This is part 2 of 6.

U.S. Air Force veterans and husband-wife duo Robert and Cindy Callaway met while both stationed at Pope Air Force base in North Carolina and each served in the military for 20 years before opening their Firehouse Subs restaurant in Sulphur, Louisiana in July 2020. 

Robert and Cindy have been together for over 23 years, happily married for 21 years, and are proud parents to two daughters and one son: Samantha, who is a deputy with the Calcasieu Parish Sheriff's Office, Dylan, who is attending McNeese State University, and Alli, who they say is probably their best cashier.

Learn more about how Robert and Cindy Callaway met and how they apply their four decades-long military experience to operating their Firehouse Subs restaurant.

What were each of your roles in the U.S. Air Force?  

Cindy: I was a vehicle operator in transportation and could operate anything from a small sedan to a forklift, to a tractor-trailer, and even wreckers and tow trucks.

Robert: I was a Joint Terminal Attack Controller (JTAC). My job varied from directing immediate airstrikes, directing strikes on predetermined targets, or setting up landing zones for resupply or extraction.   

Did you two meet while serving? If so, please give more details.  

Robert and Cindy met while both stationed at Pope U.S. Air Force base in North Carolina. After a foot injury sent Robert across the base to the transportation office to manually laminate hundreds of weapons cards, he noticed Cindy working in the licensing section. Over the next few days, they got to know one another and even went to lunch. It was business as usual after that until Robert saw Cindy later on out of her military uniform. He mustered up the courage to ask her out on a date and they’ve been together ever since for 23 years and counting. 

What are each of your favorite parts about being a military veteran?  

Cindy: My favorite part is being able to talk to other veterans about their experiences no matter their age or which branch of service they served in.

Robert: My family has a history of serving so I have a deep respect for the military. I love speaking with and getting to know individuals who have served or are still active in the military.  

Did you all learn anything in the military that transfers over to being restaurant owners? If so, what? 

Cindy: It gave me the ability to manage people, and to keep things organized as in practices and procedures.

Robert: Leadership, building better practices, trusting your workers’ input and a better understanding of situational awareness. Working at a lot of different levels in the military has taught me to not let the good idea fairy land on my shoulder and make a decision. Look at it from the worker level to see how it impacts their routines. Don’t ask your workers to do something you’re not willing to do. Additionally, just because you have an idea that may work for a specific procedure, you need to think outside of the box and look at how it may impact other processes. Too many times I have seen decisions made to implement an idea and it degraded everything around it.

What were your favorite parts about serving our country?  

Cindy: My favorite part of my time of serving in the U.S. Air Force was the comradery, ability to travel, and excitement I felt seeing different places.

Robert: My time in the military made me appreciate how good we have it in the United States compared to other countries who have freedoms that are severely regulated or taken away. 

What are your favorite Firehouse Subs sandwiches?  

Cindy: I have three favorite subs! I love the Firehouse Italian™ with banana peppers added, the New York Steamer®, and the Smokehouse Beef & Cheddar Brisket™.

Robert: The Firehouse Hero® is my favorite, hands down. Three awesome meats of roast beef, smoked turkey breast, Virginia honey ham coming right at you! I like to bump up the flavors with pepper jack cheese and Cajun mayo. 

We also have a secret twist on the Steak & Cheese™ sub that’s pretty good. It’s been nicknamed the Cajun Steak and Cheese by our local guests. We use steak and cheese, Cajun seasoning, cherry peppers, pepper jack cheese, and finish it off with Cajun mayo.