Army Veteran and Nurse Open First Firehouse Subs® in Cordele, Bring New Restaurant Design to Georgia

Published 4:14 pm Tuesday, March 15, 2022

Will Stilley and Alexis Stilley in front of their Cordele restaurant’s hand-painted mural.

CORDELE, Ga. – March 15, 2022 – Firehouse Subs® is pleased to announce the grand opening of its first Community Design restaurant in Georgia. Located in Cordele at 1416 E. 16th Ave., the restaurant is owned by Will Stilley, Alexis Stilley and Linda Jenkins.

Will Stilley started working at Firehouse Subs as a crew member in high school before he served in the U.S. Army for nearly 12 years. In November 2017, he returned to the brand and opened the Firehouse Subs restaurant in Perry, Georgia. Alexis Stilley currently serves as a neonatal ICU nurse at Atrium Health Navicent Beverly Knight Olson Children’s Hospital. Linda Jenkins is Alexis Stilley’s grandmother and the proud great-grandmother of Amelia and Jade Stilley.

“From starting as a crew member in high school at Firehouse Subs, to serving in the Army, to owning and operating two restaurants now, I’ve experienced quite a journey and have loved every minute of it,” said Will Stilley. “We are thrilled to share our hot and hearty subs and sincere hospitality with the community of Cordele. Community members have been asking us for years when we’re bringing Firehouse Subs to town and the day has finally come.”

The new Community Design restaurant concept features enhancements made to provide a better dining experience for guests, in addition to a new back-of-the-house layout with a more efficient flow for crew members. The updated design of this new location has a repositioned ordering area and a designated space for Rapid Rescue To Go® orders made through the Firehouse Subs app or website. The space also demonstrates the brand’s commitment to community, first responders, heartfelt service and quality food that satisfies.

The Cordele Firehouse Subs restaurant opens at 10:30 a.m. and closes at 9 p.m. seven days a week. The restaurant offers subs to go through online ordering, call-in phone orders, third-party delivery or takeout service at the counter inside.

The Stilleys are dedicated to sharing the brand’s commitment to giving back through Firehouse Subs Public Safety Foundation®, which has granted more than $427,000 in the greater Albany area. A portion of every purchase at any Firehouse Subs in the U.S. benefits the Foundation to help achieve its mission of providing lifesaving equipment and resources to first responders and public safety organizations across the country.

Firehouse Subs serves a variety of hot specialty subs, piled high with premium meats and cheeses that are sliced fresh daily in-restaurant and steamed together to bring out the ingredients’ natural flavors, served “Fully Involved®” with fresh produce and condiments. In addition to its signature subs, the restaurant offers a variety of catering options from sandwich and dessert platters to salads and snacks to fuel any occasion.

Founded by former firefighting brothers, the restaurant décor reflects the founding family’s decades of fire and police service with gear and photos donated by local fire departments. It boasts a custom, hand-painted mural by Chief Mural Artist Joe Puskas, featuring Stilley’s youngest daughter Jade driving a Crisp County Fire Rescue fire truck with a watermelon patch in the background as a nod to the annual festival hosted in Cordele and its nickname, the “Watermelon Capital of the World.” Since the opening of the first Firehouse Subs in 1994, Puskas and his team have painted more than 1,205 murals from his studio at Firehouse Subs Headquarters in Jacksonville, Florida.

In 2005, the Firehouse Subs founders established the Firehouse Subs Public Safety Foundation with the mission of providing funding, lifesaving equipment and educational opportunities to first responders and public safety organizations. The 501(c)(3) Firehouse Subs Public Safety Foundation has granted more than $65 million to hometown heroes in 49 states, Puerto Rico and Canada. Each restaurant recycles five-gallon pickle buckets, available to guests for a $3 donation to the Foundation. Donation canisters on register counters explain the nonprofit’s mission and collect spare change, while the Round Up Program allows guests to “round up” their bill to the nearest dollar. All funds raised benefit the Foundation.

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Beal-Shephard tries to weather the storm over City HallBy Neil B. McGahee Managing Editor Cordele City Commissioner Vesta Beal-Shephard was elected in 2001 to represent the people of Ward One. By all accounts, she has done a very good job of relating to the citizens living in her ward. Recently, however, a dark cloud has settled over City Hall. From the first day of his term, newly-elected commission chairman Joshua Antwan Deriso began taking verbal snipes on social media at some of the other commissioners. Shephard says she just ignored it at first but on April 9, Deriso posted on Facebook “…It was much anticipated for Comm. Rainey to be against change. Comission (sp) Shephard fights against me the hardest…does not know much about government at all…She needs to be voted out next year 2023.” A few days later, he posted live saying …“I am totally over the games, the political stuff…a lot of people want to make what I said about Commissioner Shephard something about disagreement with Commissioner Shephard. It was her ignorance and short-sightedness…not able to understand what we can do as a government. “When there were people in charge that didn’t look like us…white people… she didn’t question anything. Since I became chairman, she has blocked everything…you don’t know what you are doing; you don’t know what you are talking about.” Shephard winces as she listens to Deriso. “I don’t do drama and I don’t do pettiness,” she said. “I refute everything he has said about me. I’m not angry with Josh; I am somewhat disturbed that he has targeted me, a citizen of Cordele; a black female…he accused me of loving white folks. Well I do love white folks, and brown folks and black folks — Haitian, Jamaican, Indian, Cuban, Mexican — I have no discrimination to anyone. My job is to facilitate for people in this ward and when I vote, I vote my conviction.” Shephard said she doesn’t know why Deriso has such hard feelings against her. “It’s so sad, I have to say that I never saw it coming,” she said. ”But I have to voice my opinion.” But one sad thing has evolved from this. “This is the first time I have been discriminated against by a fellow commissioner,” she said. “I used to invite people to my home if they had a problem. But I had to stop that. If you want to meet with me, we will have to go to a public area or to my office at city hall. I am going to keep my distance for the simple reason that I don’t want to endanger myself.