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What You Should Know Before Eating At Jersey Mike's

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11:43   |   May 20, 2019

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What You Should Know Before Eating At Jersey Mike's
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  • Jersey Mike's has been making subs for decades now, but what do you really know about this
  • fast-growing sandwich chain?
  • From their humble beginnings to their secret menu, their extensive charity work, and even
  • an unfortunate controversy, here's the untold truth of Jersey Mike's.
  • Jersey Mike's began in 1956, only two years after Burger King was founded and almost a
  • decade before Subway ever opened.
  • A single store, called Mike's Subs, was a mom-and-pop business, set up to sell a relatively
  • new invention: the submarine sandwich.
  • In 1971, Peter Cancro joined the Mike's Subs team at just 14.
  • "When I was 14, I showed up at the business and my voice mattered.
  • That’s the kind of culture that it was."
  • He thrived in the sub business, and a few years later in 1975, when he heard the owners
  • discussing selling the business, he approached his football coach and asked for a loan of
  • $150,000 to help him buy the shop.
  • Surprisingly, his coach agreed, making the teenager a business owner.
  • In an interview with QSR, Cancro was asked what it felt like to own his own business
  • at such a young age.
  • He said it was:
  • "A natural high, I guess.
  • But it wasn't easy.
  • I didn't go to school for a week and a half while I was out trying to raise capital.
  • Everyone was wondering where I was.
  • They said I'd ruined my life."
  • In 1987, Cancro began franchising Jersey Mike's.
  • It almost destroyed the company.
  • Cancro had put "every dime" into growing Jersey Mike's, and eventually set up about 35 stores
  • up and down the Jersey Shore.
  • When a recession hit in the early 1990s, all of the company's money had been put into growth,
  • so there was nothing left in the bank to save it from hard times.
  • Six people were laid off and Cancro was forced to visit each franchisee and make sure things
  • were still running smoothly.
  • It was also impossible to buy any new stores.
  • Cancro told QSR,
  • "We were under.
  • I didn't declare bankruptcy, but I was negative $2 million to $5 million.
  • That's when I buttoned the chinstrap.
  • I visited every single owner.
  • Growth was supposed to be exponential, but it just stopped."
  • Cancro had to run the company without the staff he had let go, eventually having to
  • work more than 100 hours every week.
  • Because there was no money for TV advertising, he took to local radio to get the word out,
  • and filled the gaps with door-to-door marketing and mail campaigns.
  • Things eventually turned around, and within three years of the recession, Cancro hired
  • back the staff he had let go.
  • Jersey Mike's has since gone on to enjoy incredible success.
  • Today, the company does $1 billion in annual sales, with 1,400 outlets in 45 states.
  • As of 2018, the company won the award for the fastest growing franchise concept in America
  • four years in a row.
  • Over the next five years, Cancro hopes to double that revenue to $2 billion each year
  • from 3,000 locations.
  • According to Cancro, there are a few key tricks to building such a successful business.
  • It basically comes down to choosing the right franchisees, communicating with staff and
  • colleagues, getting involved and, perhaps simplest of all, showing up every day.
  • Almost makes it look easy, doesn't he?
  • One of the things which separates Cancro's business style from that of his fast food
  • CEO colleagues is that he genuinely seems to relish getting involved.
  • While he was providing his key lessons on managing a business to the Jersey Mike's blog,
  • he was in the midst of touring the country to visit his stores.
  • According to Cancro himself, when he walks into a store,
  • "I say nothing.
  • I walk in wearing a white oxford shirt with the sleeves rolled up and I start cleaning
  • the grill.
  • I get right in there with them."
  • He then joins the production line, helps make sandwiches and routinely asks his colleagues,
  • many of whom are teenagers, how he's doing.
  • He says it's a great way of leveling the playing field and makes the company feel like a family.
  • In a 2018 Reddit post, a former Jersey Mike's detailed some of the restaurant's secret menu
  • items.
  • One of these is the 99, a Philly cheesesteak with onions, peppers, mushrooms and jalapeño,
  • with four slices of cheese and chipotle mayo sauce.
  • Another more rare item is the Chicka-Phila-Roni: a chicken Philly with grilled pepperoni, grilled
  • onions, chipotle mayo, marinara and/or ranch.
  • If you're after something a little more low-carb, there's always the Sub in a Tub.
  • It's essentially the inner workings of a sub but without any of the bread.
  • Jersey Mike's is willing to try a whole range of things to get their sandwiches selling,
  • but none of their efforts so far are likely to have been as good as the time they showed
  • up in a Jennifer Lopez video.
  • In 2018, J-Lo released "Dinero," a collaboration with Cardi B and DJ Khaled.
  • Among all the dance sequences and scenes depicting Lopez barbecuing in lingerie is a shot in
  • which the singer sits at on a staircase eating a meal from Jersey Mike's.
  • The company's social media accounts were quick to point out their cameo in "Dinero," and
  • considering it's been viewed around 100 million times, it's easy to imagine they were probably
  • pretty happy about seeing their products in the video.
  • You can't buy exposure like that.
  • The nature of owning a franchise business means you're inevitably going to court some
  • controversy.
  • That's exactly what happened in August 2018, when an employee of the company in Marysville,
  • Washington, was fired over maternity leave.
  • According to KIRO 7, the pregnant worker realized one day she hadn't been assigned shifts and,
  • after asking her manager about it, received a text telling her she'd been fired.
  • The text read:
  • "It’s not a good time for us to have someone who’s leaving for maternity leave in several
  • months anyways."
  • Under Washington state law, it's considered an unfair practice for an employer to terminate
  • employment due to pregnancy.
  • After the incident received considerable media attention, the owner of that store offered
  • her job back.
  • The worker ultimately declined.
  • The manager responsible for the firing also resigned, and did not offer comment.
  • Freshness is the name of the game at Jersey Mike's.
  • The chain takes special pride in preparing all its vegetables by hand every day.
  • According to Greg Potter, one of the company's franchisees, freshness is what makes Jersey
  • Mike's superior to other subs.
  • He wrote in a post on the company's blog:
  • "We bake our bread fresh daily.
  • We shred our lettuce and cut our onions and tomatoes daily.
  • There's nothing leftover that you will have the next day on your sub.
  • It's all fresh that morning."
  • In 2013, the chain was honored with the Restaurant Chain Marketer of the Year award for "leading
  • promotions on the Certified Angus Beef brand" on its menus, social media, and advertising
  • campaigns.
  • According to Brian Todd, President and CEO of the Food Institute, Jersey Mike's ability
  • to play to "shifting tastes" towards fresh ingredients and authentic, local food has
  • given the chain a marked advantage over competitors.
  • It might surprise you that Jersey Mike's food is actually pretty good for you, as far as
  • casual dining goes, at least.
  • In 2014, Grellin.org ranked the healthiest chain restaurants in the USA, and Jersey Mike's
  • tied seventh with In-N-Out Burger, beating out Panda Express and El Pollo Loco.
  • Unfortunately, it wasn't the top sub chain on the list, with Subway coming in third.
  • But none of the usual suspects like McDonald's or Burger King are in the top 10, so take
  • that for what it's worth.
  • Meanwhile, certain items on the Jersey Mike's menu are anything but healthy.
  • A 2016 survey found that the restaurant's Buffalo chicken cheesesteak was given the
  • third-worst mark among sandwich chain items, earning a D-minus.
  • That chicken cheesesteak was also found to contain a staggering 1,770 calories and 79.5
  • grams of fat in one sandwich.
  • There's quite the scope for customization at Jersey Mike's, but one way of making a
  • sandwich has become the central focus for the company's marketing.
  • Mike's Way means making a sandwich with onions, lettuce, tomatoes, spices, and a blend of
  • olive oil and red wine vinegar called The Juice.
  • "Bread that loves The Juice, Juice that loves the bread."
  • The main filling -- roast beef, turkey, tuna, whatever -- is up to the customer.
  • According to Marketing Manager Matt Chmiel, a sub made "Mike's Way" is Jersey Mike's most
  • popular product, and is what the store has been famous for from the beginning.
  • The store also offers a whole smorgasbord of different sandwiches, featuring ingredients
  • as wide-ranging as bell peppers, smoked bacon, sauerkraut, Thousand Island dressing, mushrooms,
  • and chipotle mayo.
  • Just remember, Mike's Way probably became famous for a reason.
  • Becoming a franchisee for a company growing as quickly as Jersey Mike's would be a dream
  • come true for many budding entrepreneurs, but it's not a role easily attained.
  • Every franchisee is required to go through a week of training in New Jersey, during which
  • time they meet Cancro, company president Hoyt Jones and the rest of the executive team.
  • This training is primarily aimed at acclimating new store owners to the Jersey Mike's corporate
  • culture.
  • In exchange for their commitment to the company, franchisees are offered real estate assistance,
  • architects, contractors, and more from Jersey Mike's headquarters, essentially taking many
  • of the stresses away from new owners.
  • Jones told the Franchise Times:
  • "We try to take as much off the plate of the franchisee so that the only thing they have
  • to worry about is running the store.
  • Learn how to make the best sub, push speed of service, quality of service, talk to the
  • customer."
  • Jersey Mike's isn't just known for subs.
  • The company also puts a lot of emphasis on charity work, which it describes as a "culture
  • of giving."
  • Since 2010, Jersey Mike's has raised over $34 million simply to give, and regularly
  • asks customers to donate to local charities throughout the month of March.
  • On the last Wednesday of March, the company also hosts a Day of Giving, where it donates
  • 100 percent of its revenue to charity.
  • According to Cancro, Jersey Mike's has done this since 1975, and considering 2018 saw
  • the company generate over $6 million in sales on its Day of Giving, all of which went to
  • charity, it's not hard to imagine the final tally of its charitable donations is astronomical.
  • The company has also worked with veterans' charities.
  • In 2017, for example, Jersey Mike's provided funding and support to K9s for Warriors, a
  • charity which provides service dogs to military veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress
  • disorder, traumatic brain injuries, and other trauma.
  • One vet who benefited from the program was Richard Baca, who suffers from PTSD and was
  • assigned a service dog named Jersey.
  • Baca completed a three-week course with K9s for Warriors, during which he received 120
  • hours of instruction on reintegration into society.
  • Speaking to Jersey Mike's, Baca explained,
  • "I learned his name was Jersey because Jersey Mike's Subs donated the money for him.
  • I am eternally grateful.
  • Jersey has given me hope and a whole new outlook on life and my future."
  • As of 2017, K9s for Warriors had helped 312 veterans find a service dog to help them cope
  • with post-combat life.
  • And some of their work has been made possible by Jersey Mike's
  • Hitting baseballs is hungry work, so the New York Yankees probably found themselves jumping
  • for joy when Jersey Mike's was named the team's Official Sub Sandwich Shop in 2015.
  • The Yankees agreed to promote Jersey Mike's via in-stadium LED signs and game tickets
  • the company can use for sweepstakes.
  • The partnership isn't a huge surprise, considering Peter Cancro has long been a sports fan and
  • that two professional athletes, former Yankees star Morgan Ensberg and former NFL player
  • Angelo Crowell, own their own Jersey Mike's franchises.
  • In 2018, Jersey Mike's also announced they were sponsoring the Summer Split of the North
  • American League of Legends Championship Series, an e-sports league, in the hope the chain
  • could make a mark on a younger demographic, too.
  • Check out one of our newest videos right here!
  • Plus, even more Mashed videos about your favorite stuff are coming soon.
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Description

Jersey Mike's has been making subs for decades now, but what do you really know about this fast-growing sandwich chain? From their humble beginnings to their secret menu, their extensive charity work, and even an unfortunate controversy, here's the untold truth of Jersey Mike's.

Jersey Mike's began in 1956, only two years after Burger King was founded and almost a decade before Subway ever opened. A single store, called Mike's Subs, was a mom-and-pop business, set up to sell a relatively new invention: the submarine sandwich.

In 1971, Peter Cancro joined the Mike's Subs team at just 14.

"When I was 14, I showed up at the business and my voice mattered. That’s the kind of culture that it was."

He thrived in the sub business, and a few years later in 1975, when he heard the owners discussing selling the business, he approached his football coach and asked for a loan of $150,000 to help him buy the shop. Surprisingly, his coach agreed, making the teenager a business owner.

In an interview with QSR, Cancro was asked what it felt like to own his own business at such a young age. He said it was:

"A natural high, I guess. But it wasn't easy. I didn't go to school for a week and a half while I was out trying to raise capital. Everyone was wondering where I was. They said I'd ruined my life."

Watch the video to find out what you should know before eating at Jersey Mike's!

Humble beginnings | #
Edge of bankruptcy | #
Making money | #
Getting his hands dirty | #
The secret menu | #
Jersey J-Lo's | #
Maternity mishap | #
Keeping fresh | #
Healthy aspirations | #
Mike's Way | #
Vetting the newbies | #
Culture of giving | #
Letting the dogs out | #
Home run partnerships | #

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