Long before there were sandwiches hawked by Michael Phelps and Jared or commercials for subs being delivered at breakneck speed, Little King was building a product and brand featuring fresh meats and great taste right here in Omaha.
Now, more than 40 years after the original store opened at 80th and Dodge streets, the Omaha-originated sub shop is undergoing a facelift while remaining true to its longstanding reputation and roots for providing a consistently outstanding product.
“Little King has developed a new, fresh, and more contemporary look and feel,” says Jose Partida, vice president and chief franchising officer for the sub shops. “Our branding was dated and didn’t reflect the energy of today’s Little King. We believe our new branding offers us a solid foundation to compete with all of our competitors.”
Partida says he and company president Nikhil Mehta—who bought the Little King brand and following from Chief Operating Officer Bob Wertheim, son of founder Sid Wertheim, in 2012—have been developing this new brand and positioning with local creative firm Webster Design Associates over the past 12 months. He admitted they are very proud and excited with the results and believe this is the right path for Little King’s future growth and success.
He added that Little King’s core values remain the same—to provide fresh, wholesome food at a great value and in an inviting dining environment.
“And, of course, they’ve kept our signature sandwich, the #11!” Partida says. “If you don’t know what that means, it is the Royal Treat. We continue to slice fresh meats and produce and bake fresh breads on a daily basis. Besides our new look, our customers will see only small changes in the Little King they have loved for over 40 years.”
The current “branding rebirth” of Little King is described as the biggest evolution since the first store opened in 1969. While the company’s values have remained relatively unchanged over time, the brand continues to evolve.
The new brand and position are a departure from where the company was, but there is still a strong tangible, visual connection to the past. A testament to this is the recent reopening of the Little King restaurant in the first level of the new building on 12th and Howard streets—the location where one of the first Little Kings sat for more than four decades.
“‘Fresh Rules Here’ still speaks volumes about where we have come from and where we are headed,” Mehta says. “At one time, Little King had over 100 units in over 17 states. Our plans are to surpass those numbers in the next five to seven years.
“As a matter of fact, our 12th and Howard Street location is open again. It has undergone renovation to showcase our new corporate look and is now our flagship restaurant. We will be working with our current franchisees to convert to our new look over the next six to 12 months. Currently, we are looking at potential new sites throughout Omaha and Iowa.”