Where did Jersey Mikes come from? Just like Moses, the Jersey Mikes legend starts by the water and seems improbable. In 1971 at the Jersey shore town of Point Pleasant, not far away from Springsteens Asbury Park turf, Jersey Mikes subs CEO Peter Cancro started working at a place called Mike’s Subs at age 14. When he was a senior in high school, he heard the owner was selling, so he asked his football coach (who was also a banker, because in 70s, anything was possible) to ensure his loan. His coach did, and that he became the proud owner of Mike’s at the age of 17.
From that point he opened a few more stores, however it wasnt until 1987 that he started franchising and added Jersey to the name. In a conversation with Jersey Mike’s President Hoyt Jones, he told me by the end of 2019 they’ll be in 49 states (sorry, Alaska) and also have near 1,700 stores, with 200 freshly opened in 2019. A 2018 Inc. magazine story quotes Cancro as saying, We’re just how to get started and continues on to discuss how, within the next 5 years, they need to add another 1,500 locations.
Do you need some competitor context? Subway, quite alarmingly, has nearly 45,000 locations. Chances are like one in two you’re standing in a single today. Arby’s has 3,300. Jimmy John’s 2,800. Firehouse around 1,100. Quiznos at its peak in 2007 had over 4,700 locations and was considered an actual rival to Subway thanks to that heated treadmill oven that toasted their subs, but is now as a result of under 400 (ends up other areas may also toast subs).
Precisely what is Jersey Mike’s seeking to do now? I’d like you to do a visual exercise in nostalgia: imagine you’re in a surf shack deli on the beach in Jersey. There exists a big glass case showcasing the meats. There exists sand tracked in on the floor, and waves lapping outside as Bruce Springsteen plays a live set where he tells the long version of the story about his dad through the River and everybody cries while eating saltwater taffy. That’s the Jersey Mike’s decor. Except instead of all that, it’s just a couple scattered tables and booths, and the only indication of the beach is an indication of a beach, as well as a surfboard on the wall. But you’ve still got the deli case!
But exactly what are they thinking?!? To be able to ascertain their intentions, I begged a fancy creative director with a fancy advertising agency to watch a bunch of Jersey Mike’s commercials and present thoughts: “They’re clearly going for the business lunch crowd — characters are usually inside their 20s and 30s, large amount of office shots, not families. Voiceover talent is same age as the target market, and also the style is terse, and ‘clever?’ The end card always shows a wrapped up sub snagged by way of a consumer, which, again, makes me think they don’t expect one to eat there. As well as the tagline ‘A Sub Above’ is not exactly ‘Just Do It’ or ‘Imported from Detroit,’ but I guess it gets across the message that the sub is superior to competitors.”
As his or her advertising and limited decor suggest, Jersey Mike’s is trying to possess the fast business lunch, office catering, and delivery apps crowd by proving that they’re a higher quality choice than Subway at the same speed and other price point, and never a great deal of step down out of your actual local deli, though with more convenience, speed, and wall-mounted surfboards. Jones confirmed that they were leaning in tough to delivery, mentioning they had national contracts with all of major online delivery companies, and had even integrated UberEats and DoorDash into their proprietary POS system. This really is interesting, because sandwich shops inherently attract more of a mix of blue collar and city workers, and college and high school students, in case they think that’s already their base, the push for that white collar crowd seems aspirational.
More than this, Jersey Mike’s itself is fascinating, partly because of its bold growth strategy, partly due to the unique environment (Jones informed me every franchisee must visit Jersey for a week, then invest some time inside the field at certified training store), but mostly because, within this heavily saturated time as increasing numbers of food entrepreneurs make an effort to branch out into increasingly niche corners in the fast casual market, it appears strangely retro to get a throwback sub shop through the Jersey shore to bet it can carve out a big slice in the working American lunch scene. And yes, that was a deli meat pun.
Cold subs ordered Mike’s Way are dressed with onions, lettuce, tomatoes, vinegar, oil and spices | Cole Saladino/Thrillist
Jersey Mikes Menu Review
How I did it: Over the course of monthly, I went 3 times to 2 different Northern California Jersey Mike’s locations. Overall, I tried ten sandwiches and three desserts. Per the ethics of these reviews, I didn’t inform anyone at Jersey Mike’s I had been coming, I paid for most of my food, and i also didnt even sign up for Shore Points, although 48 would’ve gotten me a free mini size sub.
Bonus Disclaimer: Item availability may vary from franchise to franchise (unfortunately, not every person stocks TastyKakes).
Now back to the cheesesteak.
The Best Stuff:
For me, in order to be eligible for glory, a cheesesteak must posses this Hylian Triforce of elements:
1) The roll must be toasty and warm capable to withstand the grease from the melted cheese, meat, and onions/peppers without sogging through.
2) The chopped steak should be crispy and tender, without a great deal of the fatty, inedible bits that bounce your teeth back when you bite down.
3) The cheese (Whiz or American) should be from the correct melty consistency to behave as being a binding agent for that meat, cheese and onions without overwhelming the whole production.
The cheesesteak at Jersey Mikes hours had all of those elements. The roll, that the woman in the counter informed me was baked every morning from dough shipped out from Jersey (an organization spokesman confirmed this, telling me the trick towards the bread will be the Jersey water! and this a longtime bread supplier in Jersey ships the dough out fresh to locations all around the country), was rxdwsn and toasty and flaky and held approximately the greasy components of the sandwich. The steak was chopped correctly and devoid of those chewy fatty gristle bits frequently apparent in off-Philly cheesesteak productions. The onions and peppers tasted like real vegetables with some bite but were not over greasy and oily. The white American cheese hugged those elements together without suffocating them, much like a good parent should, RIGHT DAD?