Jersey Mike’s has seemingly exploded onto the fast food scene in the last few decades as one of the leading stops for a quick lunch. With the lure of freshly baked bread, selected deli meats, and a signature sauce known as “The Juice,” what began as a little sandwich shop has turned into a go-to for fast-casual eating. With new sandwich shop locations opening across the country on a regular basis, Jersey Mike’s Subs are continuing to rise high. For all those lovers of subs, here are some fascinating behind-the-scenes facts about Jersey Mike’s you may not know about. Mouthwatering on standby as we bring you the Top 10 Untold Truths Of Jersey Mike’s Subs.
10. Peter Cancro Became CEO At 17 Years Old
In 1975, at age 17, Peter Cancro had developed a fondness for subs from a local mom-and-pop sandwich joint, Mike’s Subs, in Point Pleasant, a Jersey Shore town popular with tourists. He had been working there part-time since age 14. That year, the owners of Mike’s Subs decided to hang up their hats and sell the shop. At this time, Cancro was a high school senior mulling over a college football career. His football coach, Rod Smith, also happened to be a banker and agreed to set up a loan to lend the kid $150,000 to buy Mike’s Subs. Thus, the 17-year-old was now a proud business owner. Shortly after Cancro married his wife, Linda, and the two opened a few more locations locally. These little shops gained a significant following and became popular with tourists and locals. Legend has it that people started expressing their disappointment that they couldn’t get these subs back home, so Cancro considered the option of franchising. A little while later, in 1987, Cancro renamed the store Jersey Mike’s Subs, an homage to his Jersey shore roots, and launched it as a franchise in the United States. How many 17-year-olds do you know who would unplug themselves from Fortnite long enough to get a loan, invest in a restaurant, and grow it into a national food chain? Or, for that matter, a banker who would set up a $150,000 loan for that 17-year-old kid to buy the restaurant? The ’70s was definitely an interesting time.
9. The Target Audience Is The Business Lunch Crowd
While you may think that a sandwich shop decorated and named after the Jersey Shore may be more inclined to attract young college students or beach bums, especially when you take their decor and vibe into consideration. But Jersey Mike’s main target audience is actually business people grabbing lunch. If you take a look at most of the commercials, you see young professionals in their 20s and 30s, with shots of offices. No signs of families with children or young teenagers (until recently in their “Family Dinner” ad). Voiceovers also often include quirky, clever humor that appeals to this demographic. The quick grab-and-go system that many of Jersey Mike’s customers enjoy is perfectly in line with this target market as well. In fact, Jersey Mike’s has recently begun opening locations at airports in the United States, which is perfect for landing customers who take frequent business trips. There are currently a handful of airports with Jersey Mike’s locations: Charlotte Douglas International Airport in North Carolina, Washington Dulles International Airport in Virginia, and LAX in California, McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas, Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport in Georgia, Newark Liberty International Airport in New Jersey, and Orlando International Airport in Florida.
8. Its Charity Game Is Extremely Strong
Jersey Mike’s does a substantial amount of charity work, through something the company refers to as a “culture of giving.” The chain has worked with about 170 different charities. Between 2010 and 2018, over $28 million was raised for charity. On the website, you can view an updated list of the year’s contributions and the charities they’ve helped. Every July, Jersey Mike’s runs a campaign raising money for Wreaths Across America. In 2011, they ran fundraising campaigns for the Lakers Youth Foundation and gave free regular subs in exchange for donations of $1 or more. Each Jersey Mike’s location also has a local charity that it is partnered with, chosen when it initially opens its doors. Throughout the month of March, campaigns run encouraging customers to come in and donate to these local charities while they chow down on their subs. Then, on the last Wednesday of March, 100% of the restaurant’s sales for that day are donated to that local charity. When hurricanes Irma and Harvey hit in 2017, Jersey Mike’s launched a sub fundraiser and raised $361,533 to help support local food banks in devastated areas. On top of that, restaurants in those areas also provided thousands of free subs to all of the relief workers, first responders, firefighters, and residents who were in need. In 2017, Jersey Mike’s donated to K9s for Warriors, an organization that helps provide veterans with service dogs. The money donated paid for a service dog for New Mexico veteran, Richard Baca II, who suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder, and it covered his 120 hours of training to help him reintegrate with society. To honor the company’s donation, the dog was named Jersey.
7. The Recession In The 1990s Nearly Killed The Franchise
Many people who lived through the United States recession in the 1990s can probably understand this situation. By 1991, the sub chain had been undergoing massive growth and expansion across the country, but it came to a sharp halt that year when the recession hit. Cancro had franchised about 35 stores by then but didn’t have a lot of extra cash laying around for an emergency fund. Banks weren’t giving out any loans, so no one could open new locations. Employees at the company’s headquarters had to be laid off, leaving Cancro to work triple time and manage most of the operations on his own. There was no budget for advertising, and he relied on lower budget tactics like radio and door-to-door flyers to get the word out. In an interview in 2015, Cancro reflected on this dark time and stated, “I didn’t declare bankruptcy, but I was negative $2 million to $5 million.” But he didn’t give up and instead threw all of his efforts into visiting each store, working closely with franchise owners, and slowly rebuilding. As soon as the chain found its feet again, Cancro tracked down each employee that had been laid off and re-hired them one by one. Now, the chain has 1,400 restaurants across the country and reaches about $1 billion in sales every year.
6. Jennifer Lopez May Have Contributed To Some Popularity
We’re not saying that she is singlehandedly responsible for skyrocketing the sandwich shop to extreme success, but she did play a role in bringing some mass attention to Jersey Mike’s. Jennifer Lopez released the video for her single “Dinero,” featuring Cardi B and DJ Khaled, in 2018. The video was shot in black and white and features a massive array of rich people being, well, filthy rich. This includes J-Lo and co doing activities such as roasting marshmallows over a burning pile of cash and barbecuing steaks in expensive lingerie with a mansion in the background. At one point, she spray paints a luxury car just to show off the fact that she’s rich enough to do it. But the real winner of the video is the Jersey Mike’s product placement. In one clip, she is shown wearing a fancy gown and eating a meal from Jersey Mike’s at the bottom of a staircase. This video now has over 110 million views, which is not a bad amount of exposure at all.
5. There Is A Secret Menu
Like most restaurants, Jersey Mike’s has a “secret menu.” While most secret menus are really just menu hacks or alternative ways of ordering, they do help to give you some options you’d never hear about otherwise. As for this particular sub shop, there are some hidden subs you just may want to try. This information comes courtesy of a Reddit user who worked at Jersey Mike’s. The “99” is a Philly cheesesteak topped with four slices of cheese (either American or pepper jack), onions, peppers, jalapeno, and mushrooms, finished with chipotle mayo. The “11” features provolone cheese, ham, and salami. You can also get a BLT with mayo, known as the “1.” A lesser-known option is the “Chicka-Fila-Roni,” which features chicken, grilled onions with pepperoni thrown in, and then chipotle mayo, marinara, and/or ranch. There’s also a turkey pepperoni sub-option. You can also get the Cancro Special, which includes roast beef, pepperoni, provolone cheese. It’s a sub that Cancro himself used to order when he was young and just discovering the magic that is sub sandwiches. A few years ago it was taken off the menu because it just wasn’t as popular anymore, but it’s still available if you ask for it.
4. The Menu Offers A Decent Amount Of Healthy Food Items
Speaking of the menu, if you’re on a diet and avoiding fast food chains at all costs, you may want to give this one a try. A study in 2014 ranked Jersey Mike’s in the top 10 healthiest fast-food restaurants in America. This rank was given based on certain criteria, such as a percentage of menu items that met the study’s standards for healthy food and the number of lower-calorie options available. Just make sure you avoid the Buffalo chicken cheesesteak if you are trying to eat healthier, which clocks in at just under 2,000 calories. They have plenty of options for different diets as well. For example, if you’re on a low carb or keto diet, you can get the sub-in-a-tub option. You just order your favorite sub and ask for it in a tub, and the toppings are served on a bed of fresh shredded lettuce instead of on a bun. If you’re celiac or on a gluten-free diet, they have gluten-free bread options. Another major aspect of Jersey Mike’s healthier status is the fact that it has dedicated itself to serving fresh ingredients. The loaves of bread are baked in-house every day, and the meat is sliced fresh daily as well. The roast beef and turkey are both cooked in the restaurant, and the cheesesteaks are cooked on the grill in front of each customer. All of the vegetables are fresh and cut that morning.
3. It’s Had Its Own Share Of Controversy
While it’s hard to find some pretty bad PR relating to Jersey Mike’s, there is one controversy that exists within the chain’s past. In August 2018, a pregnant woman who was employed at a Jersey Mike’s location in Marysville, Washington, caused quite a media stir when she announced that she had been fired for being pregnant. The soon-to-be mom, Kameisha Denton, said it all started when she realized that she wasn’t being scheduled for any shifts. This occurred after she had informed her boss that she was pregnant and would need to go on maternity leave when the time came. After realizing she hadn’t been scheduled, she texted her manager and asked about it. According to the news report, the manager responded by telling her that she was fired and that it wasn’t a good time to have an employee who was going to go on maternity leave. In Washington, it’s considered a form of workplace discrimination and to fire someone for being pregnant. Naturally, after posting about the situation on social media, she was offered her job back by the owner of the franchise. The manager who had fired her resigned and the owner issued a public apology. For obvious reasons, she declined the offer. However, Denton claimed that she had received a flood of other job offers from different employers, so things worked out for her in the end.
2. Not All Jersey Mike’s Franchise Owners Are Big Corporate Business People
In fact, the franchise owners in Jersey Mike’s roster are a lovely blend of different people from different walks of life. Among franchise owners are former employees and customers, Fortune 500 execs, and even some professional athletes (Yankees retiree Morgan Ensberg and former NFLer Angelo Crowell). According to the company, some franchise owners have come from backgrounds that aren’t related to restaurant ownership at all. Ultimately, as long as you share Cancro’s passion for subs, business, and charity, you can be qualified to purchase a franchise. But before you start considering opening up your own Jersey Mike’s franchise, here’s what the process looks like. First, you need an initial franchise fee of about $18,500, plus another $5,000 for construction/real estate fees, and then security deposits. You can apply to be a franchise owner online on the website, and then an interview process begins. Each franchise owner is also brought out to New Jersey to meet with Cancro and spend some time working right on the front lines in the field. Once you do this, though, when it comes time to build your new Jersey Mike’s location, the company provides architects, contractors, and real estate assistance for you to make things easier while you’re getting started. There are also area directors set up in different parts of the country to help franchise owners whenever they need it.
1. It Teamed Up With The New York Yankees
Given that Cancro is a big sports fan, and gave up his dreams of playing college football to take over the sub shop, it’s no surprise that he also got the chain involved with major league baseball. In 2015, Jersey Mike’s was named the “Official Sub Sandwich Shop” of the Yankees. This partnership involved the Yankees providing the restaurant with tickets to give away in-store, as well as big, bright LED signs in Yankee Stadium. The Yankees are one of the most well-known MLB teams, and Yankee Stadium is probably one of the most famous venues, so this partnership helped propel the company further with customers on the east coast. In true athletic fashion, Jersey Mike’s is also a supporter of the organization known as PAFI. This organization provides resources, support, and education for professional athletes to become franchise owners in various businesses and restaurants. It’s likely that this is part of the reason those two ex-pro athletes became Jersey Mike’s franchisees in the first place. It also wasn’t just the Yankees that got a sports-themed partnership with Jersey Mike’s. In 2018, the restaurant branched out and entered the world of e-sports video game competitions by sponsoring a League of Legends championship series called the Summer Split. They’ve also been involved in a number of organizations that sponsor local sports teams over the years.