Cheba Hut has been curing diners' munchies since 1998.

Now Tommy and Meredith Wiggins are hoping to cure Baton Rouge's munchies by opening the first Louisiana franchise of the marijuana-themed sandwich shop in Baton Rouge.

But the shop won't open until March 2021, at 411 Ben Hur Road near LSU.

And though Cheba Hut is unapologetically cannabis-themed, the Wiggins said it's just that — a theme.

"There will be no marijuana in the sandwiches or in any of the food," Meredith Wiggins said. "It's just the theme, and it's the theme that gets the customers in there. The food keeps them coming back."

The franchise will be the culmination of Tommy Wiggins' dream of opening his own restaurant after more than 20 years of working in the restaurant industry.

He was the manager of Maxwell's Market for 15 years, and Meredith Wiggins, a graduate of the Louisiana Culinary Institute, owns Island Girl Bake Shop.

But it was while working for Raising Cane's in 2003 that Tommy Wiggins discovered Cheba Hut. He was opening stores around the country for Raising Cane's when he spotted the sandwich shop in Fort Collins, Colorado.

Wiggins was impressed with the shop's food and immediately inquired about franchise possibilities.

"Unfortunately, the shop wasn't franchising at the time," he said. "But I was blown away by the shop's service and its accepting atmosphere. It was a place where everyone is welcome."

Last year, Tommy Wiggins' thoughts returned to Cheba Hut. 

"Our son had graduated high school, and we were about to be empty nesters," he said. "I saw an ad where Cheba Hut was franchising, and it fell into our lap. We took the jump."

The Ben Hur Road shop will be the first of three in the Baton Rouge area. The others will open within the next five years, and the Wiggins are looking to expand to Lafayette and Hammond after that.

"We'd like to open up to 10 shops," Tommy Wiggins said.

Cheba Hut is different from other sandwich shops in that it will have a full bar, featuring craft beer from local breweries. Sandwiches are made daily with fresh ingredients on artisan bread with meat and vegetarian options.

Also, individual stores also offer locally created menu items.

"We call it our secret stash," Tommy Wiggins said. "We'll reveal these items when the time comes." 

The 2,400-square-foot space will be fronted by a garage door that will allow a combination of indoor and outdoor dining. 

But Tommy Wiggins said restaurant's best characteristic is its atmosphere.

"Basically, it's a culture of accepting, a culture of love," he said. "Everyone is welcome, and this country needs that."

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