After a long-time dream of owning their own business, a local husband and his wife recently opened the first Jon Smith Subs in Northwest Florida.

Sandestin residents Rod and Stacey Melvin were among the first five owners nationwide to purchase franchise rights of the 30-year-old sub shop after it decided to offer franchises two years ago. Before opening the venue, Rod worked in the transportation business, while Stacey was a part of an insurance company, and the pair have lived in Sandestin for 14 years.

"It's been a dream of his since he was 14, so this is really our second career," Stacey said. "We'll manage it, we'll be part of the store. When customers com in, they'll see he or I."

Rod said the process took about a year and a half of planning, researching different local sub shops and traveling to South Florida — where he and Stacey were interviewed by Jon Smith.

"We went down there and tried the food and loved it, and said 'Hey, I think this would be a great addition to the Destin area,'" Rod said.

Stacey said it took them a while to find the right location because they didn't want to go west of the Destin Commons. Currently, they're located in the Market Shops at Sandestin on 9375 Emerald Coast Parkway in Miramar Beach.

On Monday, the business had a soft opening to give its employees a couple days practice before the grand opening and ribbon-cutting ceremony on Nov. 1.

"To live here and be apart of the community is really exciting for us," Stacey said.

Their menu includes 44 different hot subs that can be customized and come with a side of fries or chips. The Melvins said the main thing that stuck out to them about Jon Smith Subs was the quality of ingredients the brand offers.

"If you order a sandwich from us, we'll fix the sandwich, it'll be ready when you get here, but we will not drop your fries until you hit the door," Rod said.

He said one of the challenges they ran into was having to hire from neighboring cities, but they're very pleased with the employees they have and are still looking to hire a handful more.

"We were really fortunate to get our employees," Stacey said. "They're great, and we had to pay more, I mean, in this area you've got to be willing to pay more, but ... we were willing to do that."

The Melvins will fill the role of shift leaders and managers, eventually promoting from within their newly-hired staff.

"There's a lot of experienced people out there, but we want them to grow from within and kind of learn the Jon Smith way of doing business," Rod said. "Down the road, we'd really like to expand and we'd like to see more stores here along the Panhandle so we can grow the brand."