Chicago Fire’s stated mission is “to capture the fun and enthusiasm of an authentic Chicago deep-dish restaurant and bring it to the west coast.” No matter how you slice it, the small chain certainly succeeded because their stores are hopping.”
“People think we’re a franchise or corporate chain,” says Samantha ‘Sammy’ Schnetz of the local, family-owned group of five restaurants. “We run it like a small business. We care a ton about our team and we want them to be happy and have an opportunity for growth.”
High quality is their primary goal. “So much research and care go into choosing the ingredients and developing unique recipes,” Sammy says. “We collectively put in the time to pick the best. We’ll never sacrifice the quality of our ingredients.” For instance, at their Palladio location, they feature a mac and cheese dish made with traditional German spaetzle noodles, a long-time family favorite recipe and a nod to their family’s heritage.
The 17-year-old business is owned by Sammy’s father, Eric Schnetz. Sammy is the marketing director. The corporate office is on Sutter Street in Old Folsom near the original restaurant location.
In 2016, Sammy left Chicago Fire for a while and partnered with her stepmother, Shelly and her twin sister, Stephanie Sikich. They owned Icing on the Cupcake. “We held a fundraising event benefitting Albie Aware with our Pinkdelicious cupcakes. It was part of our Community Cupcake week.” Sammy says.
In May 2019, Sammy went back to Chicago Fire. She brought awareness of Albie Aware with her. “Community events have always been at the front of what motivates me – driving community events and involvement,” she says. “This fits right in with me and who I am. As the marketing director, I manage social media, promotions, advertising, but mostly community events. Events are very important to us. They are the best form of advertising — to be present in the community we serve and going above and beyond what is expected is important.”
On October 29, 2019, the Midtown Sacramento location will be donating 20% of their sales to Albie Aware. All five stores – Elk Grove, Historic Folsom, Palladio, Roseville, and Sacramento will be raising awareness of the event throughout October.
Chicago Fire staff who wish to promote the fundraiser will each donate a minimum of $5.00 to wear pink T-shirts instead of their regular uniforms on Fridays and Saturdays. All stores will offer pink bracelets to guests for a minimum donation of $5.00. Also, those Icing on the Cupcake Pinkdelicious cupcakes will be for sale all month with $2.00 of every sale going to Albie Aware.
The original idea for Chicago Fire to support Albie Aware came from an employee. Then Sammy and Andrew Morgan, general manager of the Midtown location, made it a bigger event. “One of our employees, Erica Fulkerson, came up with the idea for employees to pay to wear pink,” says Sammy. “It’s a great idea, as everyone really likes wearing clothes other than their uniforms and are happy to pay for the privilege!”
She adds, “With this event, it’s about awareness and not just the money. We want to direct our efforts toward people who really need it – making a difference to people who really need the help.”