From Vice President to Franchisee: Maria Piotter Is Steadfast in Her Nearly 40-Year Commitment to Enhancing the Cousins Subs Brand

With three successful Milwaukee-area restaurants and a newly-opened fourth at the Milwaukee VA Medical Center, Piotter has enjoyed continual growth as with the Cousins Subs brand.

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In 1979, Maria Piotter, an eager high school student, accepted her first role at Cousins Subs. Little did she know, nearly 40 years later, she and her husband would own and operate four Cousins Subs restaurants in the greater Milwaukee area, including a new location at the Milwaukee VA Medical Center which opened on May 8 as a result of her relationship with staff and residents at the medical center.

“Opening the doors to our new restaurant inside the medical center is going to be an amazing and humbling experience,” said Piotter. “We are immensely admirable of the men and women who have sacrificed to ensure our freedom, and we couldn’t be more thrilled to be in a position to serve them.”

Piotter’s journey with the brand has been untraditional, but nothing short of rewarding. After graduating from college and briefly pursuing other endeavors, Piotter realized she loves Cousins Subs’ cross-generational appeal, proven business model and brand recognition. So, she rejoined the beloved brand.

“In 1988 I assumed the role of store manager for Cousins Subs and worked my way up to Vice President of Franchising,” said Piotter. “My career trajectory afforded me the opportunities to oversee development, real estate, construction, training and operations and learn firsthand what it’s like to come on board as a franchisee and best practices for running a successful business.”

During her 12-year tenure working for Cousins Subs at its corporate headquarters, she met and married her husband Mike. Following, she transitioned from a member of the Cousins Subs Leadership Team to a member of the Cousins Subs franchise family.

“In 2005, there were a few corporate locations for sale. It was time for a new endeavor with the company, so Mike and I purchased our first Cousins Subs franchise,” said Piotter. “This new role as franchisee afforded me a more flexible schedule and the opportunity to exercise the best practices I learned in my previous roles.”

The husband-and-wife franchisees opened their first restaurant on Miller Park Way in West Milwaukee. The following year they opened a second location in Milwaukee’s airport district and then a third location in the suburban retail area of Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin. And, just a few days ago, they opened a fourth location at the Milwaukee VA Medical Center.

Since she and her husband opened their first Cousins Subs franchise 15 years ago, Piotter has remained confident that her career journey with Cousins Subs to become a franchisee was the right one.

“It has been so incredible to watch our staff grow and develop into amazing employees and community members. We’re truly a family, and some of our employees have been with us since day one. As a franchisee, I strive to always provide a motivational environment that is connected through friendship.”

About Cousins Subs

Wisconsin-based Cousins Subs®, a family-owned, fast casual sub shop established in 1972 by Bill Specht and his cousin, is driven by the mission to Believe in Better – both in the quality of food it serves and in the communities it supports. Cousins Subs and its franchisees operate nearly 100 sub sandwich shops throughout Wisconsin, Illinois, and Indiana, providing guests with quality deli fresh and made to order grilled subs using only the freshest ingredients on its signature bread baked daily. For more information, visit You can also find Cousins Subs on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and TikTok.