A love for tuna sandwiches helped turn a veteran at the Oakland Police Department into an up-and-coming entrepreneur in Richmond.
On Friday, Sept. 13, Kiesha Haggerty held back tears as she stood in front of her new Subway restaurant at 15501 San Pablo Ave. in Richmond, where she welcomed patrons to a weekend-long grand opening celebration.
“From where I started, I never would have imagined that I would be here,” Haggerty said.
Haggerty was at one point a single teenage mom growing up in a rough neighborhood in Oakland.
“I knew I had to make it out if I wanted myself and my son to survive,” she said.
So she worked multiple jobs, graduated from high school early, enrolled in college, and, at age 19, joined the Oakland Police Department. Over 20 years later, Haggerty continues her police work in Oakland. She travels about the city in search of video surveillance evidence that can help solve crimes such as homicides and robberies. It’s a job that has Haggerty constantly on the road, and often in need of a fast, affordable and healthy lunch spot.
“I’m into fitness, and Subway was the only place I could come down, have a meal and not feel bad about messing up the workout I just put in,” Haggerty said, adding, “And I love the tuna sandwiches.”
One day, Haggerty was having her regular tuna sandwich at a Subway and thought, “I can do this.”
She had dreamed of becoming a business owner, and so she Googled how to become a Subway franchisee, then filled out an online application.
After submitting the online form, she went to bed and forgot about it. Then came the “snowball effect,” she said.
“A week later I get a call from headquarters and they ask if I’m interested in buying a Subway, and I said yes,” she said.
She went in, took a test and a few steps later traveled to Connecticut for a few weeks of training on how to run a Subway store. Like all Subway franchise owners, Haggerty received classroom and on-the-job instruction, and she continues to receive support from a local business development team provided by Subway. In Richmond, that was Akki Patel, CEO of Letap Group, which owns 60 franchise restaurants and represents 900 restaurants as a local franchisor for Subway in major markets throughout northern California and Reno.
“Helping people like Kiesha is what makes this business so rewarding,” Patel told us after the ribbon-cutting last week.
“Her story is so inspiring and we’re grateful to be working with her every step of the way.”
In 2017, Haggerty opened her first Subway in Pinole. This past June, she expanded into Richmond. Last weekend, she invited the community to celebrate the Richmond store becoming the first in the area to receive the new Subway remodel. The new design features on-the-go and dine-in options, free WiFi and USB ports, digital menu boards and modernized workspaces, among other updates.
Haggerty has managed to do all of this while still working for the Oakland Police Department. She credits her highly personable brother, Adrian Walker, for helping run the restaurant while she’s at work.
“I like fast-paced, and we’re an extremely fast-paced store,” Walker said. “I especially love making people who come in here happy.”
Haggerty has plans to open more stores, and her advisors at Subway don’t doubt she’ll do it.
Her positive, can-do resilience and focus on community make her well positioned to succeed, said Randy Hammond, a Subway field consultant and operations manager for Letap Group, who was on hand to celebrate the ribbon cutting last week.
“In her regular job, she’s so involved in the community, it’s kind of instilled in her,” Hammond said. “When you have a shop like this you become a part of the community. Kids say that’s my sandwich shop, the one I grew up going to.”
Haggerty said she can’t help but to pinch herself.
“I came from nothing. Growing up, it was just surviving,” she said. “I would never have imagined that I would be here. A business owner.”
Indeed, a lot has changed for Haggerty. But not everything. While inviting customers into her restaurant on ribbon-cutting day, she was asked which sandwich, of any on the menu, she’d choose to order right then.
“Tuna, obviously,” she said with a laugh. “I also like the Sweet Onion Chicken Teriyaki.”