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20 Things You Didn't Know about Jersey Mike's

Peter Cancro, the CEO and founder of Jersey Mike’s Subs, is truly a home town guy. He grew up playing football at Point Pleasant Beach High School. He also spent his time during summers at the Jersey Shore. Point Pleasant swelled with tourists during the summer season. So Cancro decided he would follow his brother’s lead and decided to work at Mike’s Subs during the summer of 1971.

The store was about 1,000 feet square and the kids working there made at least 1,000 subs each day that season. Cranco was just 14 that summer when he first worked in the sub shop. By the time he was 17, brothers Frank and Victor Merlo decided to sell the sub shop. Cranco’s mother suggested that he buy it.

He approached his Pop Warner football coach, banker Rod Smith, who helped him to secure a loan from the bank. Cranco’s plans for his future had included trying out for the football team at University of North Carolina where he planned to become a student and study law. But buying the store sent him in a completely different direction.

Cancro was able to use his bank loan of $125,000 to buy out the Merlo brothers. In 1987, Cancro franchised the business across the United States, and Jersey Mike’s was born. Adding “Jersey” to the name let people know the company’s origin and kept it rooted in its traditions. The company grew rapidly, and then the 1991 recession hit. Cancro had some tough moments that year. He was forced to lay off his brother and five other people. But by 2018, annual sales had reached a billion dollars. Cancro expects to double that amount within the next five years.

"Energy Determines Success"

When interviewed for Inc. com, Cancro stated that he believes that a person’s energy determines their success. He also believes that giving makes a difference in people’s life and that is why cause-related marketing has helped Jersey Mike’s to grow. He believes that the reason he’s been able to stay successful is that he has simply shown up for work every day for more than four decades.

He inspires his locations by working the sandwich line, cleaning the grill, and asking his workers how he is doing. He’s said many times in interviews that his favorite question is “What do you think?” because he learns from communicating with others. Even today, he wants his stores to have teams of people who feel and work as if they are family.

Remembering how family works best together has resulted in an estimated net work for Cranco of about $300 million. But he has also never forgotten that the thing that gives him the most joy is that his company locations gives readily to their communities. Each year, during March, Jersey Mike’s donates $5 to $7 million to local charities. That’s what Cranco lives for, and he believes that’s one big reason that Jersey Mike’s continues to succeed and grow.

1. The money to train Service Dog Jersey at K9s for Warriors was donated by Jersey Mike’s.

Jersey was assigned to Albuquerque, N.M. veteran Richard Baca, II. Baca struggles with Post-traumatic Stress Disorder, and he and then two-year-old Jersey completed a training course in 2017 at Camp K9 in Ponte Vedra, Florida. Baca and Jersey lived together for three weeks and completed 120 hours of instruction together in order for Jersey to graduate from the service dog training program. Baca learned that Jersey was named for Jersey Mike’s. Baca described the hope for a new future which Jersey has brought to him and his eternal gratefulness to Jersey Mike’s for making it possible.

2. Jersey Mike’s helped Wreaths Across America place wreaths at Arlington National Cemetery.

In 2016, Jersey Mike’s offered to match donations for every wreath sponsored between November 25 and 29 up to a total donation of $250,000. The Wreaths Across America program endeavors to honor veterans annually by placing wreaths on every headstone at the cemetery. Approximately 250,000 wreaths are needed to achieve the non-profit organization’s mission “Remember, Honor, Teach.” Now, Jersey Mike’s holds a “Christmas in July” nationwide fundraising campaign from June 27 through July 11 to collect donations for the Christmas season wreaths.

3. There are 14 different Northeast-style cold sub sandwiches offered at Jersey Mike’s.

From #2 Jersey Shore’s Favorite made with cappacuolo, ham, and provolone to #12 Cancro Special made with roast beef, pepperoni, and provolone- each sub is assembled in any combination of lettuce, tomatoes, spices, vinegar and oil which the customer prefers. The basic ingredient combination is a copyrighted with the name Prepared Mike’s Way. The menu also includes hot subs, signature wraps, a kid’s meal for those under eight years old, and sides, drinks and desserts. Subs come in three sizes, including the Mini (which feeds 1), the Regular, Wrap, or Tub (which feeds 2) and the Giant (which feeds 4).

4. By 2016, Jersey Mike’s had become the United State’s fastest growing restaurant chain for three years in a row.

California boasted 200 stores that year, which demonstrated the success in sharing the distinctive East Coast flavor profile and introducing it nationwide. The company had doubled in size, with 500 new stores in development and 197 new stores added in 2015.

5. Every Jersey Mike’s store opened starts by partnering with a local community charity.

That’s because it’s important to the company that their subs not only taste good, but they do good, too. It’s an important part of their “Culture of Giving” that they give simply to give- not for pats on the back, for attention or praise- but just because it’s important that they make a difference wherever they are. Throughout the month of March, Jersey Mike’s invites customers to come to their local restaurant and donate to that restaurant’s local charity partner. Even more, on the last Wednesday of each March 100% of the sales for the day are donated to the local charity partner.

6. Jersey Mike’s has raised more than $28 million for charities since 2010.

Just this year, Jersey Mike’s raised more than $6 million for more than 170 charities across the nation. There were 1,360 Jersey Mike’s joined in the fundraising campaign this year. The company posted a listing of the restaurants and charities which participated at Jersey Mike’s CEO Peter Cancro thanked the “extraordinary customers, team members, franchise owners, and charity partners” for the collaborative effort which resulted in the 8th Annual Month of Giving raising the most ever.

Cancro credited Bob Hoffman of Hoffman’s Ice Cream and Jack Baker of Baker’s Lobster Shanty for showing him how important it is to give unconditionally to the local community of Point Pleasant Beach. Cancro grew up there and has kept the philosophy of unconditional giving to this day.

7. Jersey Mike’s has distributed more than 2 million free sub sandwiches to help many different causes.

The company’s mission is “Giving…making a difference in someone’s life”. It has been the mission statement since the very beginning. This year, Jersey Mike’s held a sub fundraiser which raised $361,533 to support food banks in areas hit hard by Hurricanes Irma and Harvey. Not only that; but crews, managers and local owners made thousands of sub sandwiches to donate to firemen, EMS, first responders and people in need.

8. Jersey Mike’s roast beef is cooked right in each store.

The beef is award-winning, Certified Angus Beef brand top round, and it’s trimmed in store before it’s cooked. In fact, all of the meats and cheeses used to make the sub sandwiches are sliced right in front of customers, and that includes freshly grilling cheese steaks, too. The leanest cuts of meats and fine, aged cheese are selected for high quality flavor.

9. Every day, the bread used for the subs is baked fresh on location.

Authentic Jersey bread is made daily in traditional white and whole wheat. Combining the bread foundation with locally sourced veggies prepared by hand each day is what gives the subs their character. The crowning touch on each sub is “The Juice”- a proprietary blend of olive oil and red wine vinegar. The company calls the flavor a special something extra which gives each sub “an exclamation”. Plenty of bread has also been donated to people in need. Thousands of sub rolls have been distributed to charities and disaster relief efforts.

10. Jersey Mike’s Subs was named “Official Sandwich Shop of the New York Yankees”.

The brands kicked off their partnership before Opening Day in April 2015. Turns out that CEO Peter Cancro gave up a football scholarship to buy his first Jersey Shore shop. Cancro has made certain that Jersey Mike’s not only has franchises owned by professional athletes, but his company partners regularly with community sports teams.

11. Anyone interested in setting up a Jersey Mike’s franchise site is required to submit an application to the company.

The company provides a gallery of photos of existing sites to give prospective franchisers a good idea of what a store should be. There is also a very specific list of requirements. These include space requirements which meet specific building and fire codes; criteria for locations including size, frontage, parking, signage, and outside seating requirements; criteria for the trade area which must have an overall population of upwards of 45k and an above average median income of upwards of $50k. Location type requirements specify combinations of office, retail, and residential populations.

12. Mike’s Way insists on operational excellence.

The company training program requires 8 to 10 weeks of classroom training and immediate experiences in a store. The program focuses on product production and the entire operation of the business. The robust training includes opportunities to return for Back to Basics and Train the Trainer programs which help to set and keep the bar high when it comes to operating each store.

13. Jersey Mike’s franchisees are an amazing mix of successful people.

Experienced restaurateurs, former employees, former customers, owners of other fast casual concepts, and an ex-Fortune 500 executive or two have all become ideal operators of the franchises. Other traits they tend to share are passion for Mike’s concept, recognition that the proven system is valuable, a desire to give back to the local community, and outgoing natures.

14. The franchise investment begins with an approximately $18,500 Initial Franchise Fee.

This amount is paid in a lump sum and due to the company when the franchise agreement is signed. There is a real estate and construction fee or approximately $5,000, and other taxes, lease and utility security deposits ranging from $500 to $30,000 each month. The initial investment varies due to factors including the condition of the site and what needs to be done to make it work.

15. Jersey Mike’s teamed up with the Lakers Youth Foundation.

It was a 2011 fundraising campaign which ran through the company’s March, Month of Giving. Customers who donated $5 to the foundation received Jersey Mike Silly Bandz and a coupon for a free drink and chips. While 100% of these donations were given to the Lakers Youth Foundation, even more followed. March 28- designated as “Make a Difference Day”- gave all Southern California Residents who donated a minimum of one dollar to the foundation a free regular-sized sub in exchange. At the April 12 Lakers-Spurs game, a check for $53,930 was contributed to the Lakers Youth Foundation during halftime. The Lakers thanked Jersey Mike’s for is exceptional support of the foundation.

16. It’s popular to eat Jersey Mike’s subs Mike’s Way, but there’s also a unique cherry pepper relish available.

Mike’s Way means topping off the sub with salt and spices, oregano, tomatoes, shredded lettuce, and sliced onions and kicking up the flavor with The Juice; a sauce made of blended olive oil and red wine vinegar. Cherry pepper relish is made from pimento; a red chili pepper which is sweet, large, and shaped much like a heart.

17. Jersey Mike’s also sells breakfast sandwiches made with Taylor Ham.

Taylor ham is a pork roll which originally was developed in New Jersey in 1856. It’s a form of processed meat first made by John Taylor. In addition to creating his famous pork roll and Taylor Provisions Company, he was the founder of the Trenton, New Jersey, Taylor Opera House. Taylor was born in Hamilton Square and he followed his father’s footsteps into business, though his father owned a brick yard and Hamilton went on to work in the meat packing industry years after his father died. Taylor also became a politician and served as state senator from 1880 to 1883. Taylor Ham served with egg and cheese is known as the “Jersey Breakfast”.

18. California has the most Jersey Mike’s franchises.

Forty-seven states currently have locations, with California’s whopping 248 stores topping the list. Coming in second is Florida with 141 and North Carolina is third with 125. Four states have only 1 location: Arkansas, Mississippi, Wyoming, and Montana. Idaho has 2 and Iowa has 3. New Jersey, where the original location was founded, has 80.

19. Jersey Mike’s opened its first airport franchise at McCarran International Airport in January 2013.

The Las Vegas location was followed just ten days later with the opening of a location at Newark Liberty International Airport. Considered non-traditional locations, the company now has several airport locations. The newest just opened September 2018 in the Atrium just behind the TSA Checkpoint C at Charlotte Douglas International Airport; the joint civil and military public facility located in North Carolina.

20. Jennifer Lopez holds a Jersey Mike’s sub in her “Dinero” music video.

The 2018 music video was directed by Joseph Kahn and is completely black-and-white. In addition to holding a Jersey Mike’s sub, Lopez wore Tiffany & Co. jewelry with a price tag of $4.5 million dollars. J. Lo is seen with her Jersey Mike’s sub lounging on a staircase in a glittering evening gown. Seems like only Jersey Mike’s knows what sub she ordered from their menu, but social media was certainly curious.

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Garrett Parker

Written by Garrett Parker

Garrett by trade is a personal finance freelance writer and journalist. With over 10 years experience he's covered businesses, CEOs, and investments. However he does like to take on other topics involving some of his personal interests like automobiles, future technologies, and anything else that could change the world.

Read more posts by Garrett Parker

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