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 city 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 make sure his loan. His coach did, and then he became the proud owner of Mike’s at the age of 17.
From that point he opened a few more stores, but it wasnt until 1987 that he started franchising and added Jersey towards the name. In a conversation with Jersey Mike’s President Hoyt Jones, he informed me by the end of 2019 they’ll remain in 49 states (sorry, Alaska) and possess near 1,700 stores, with 200 freshly opened in 2019. A 2018 Inc. magazine story quotes Cancro as saying, We’re just starting out and continues to discuss how, over the next five years, they wish to add another 1,500 locations.
Do you need some competitor context? Subway, quite alarmingly, has nearly 45,000 locations. Chances are like one out of 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 a genuine rival to Subway due to that heated treadmill oven that toasted their subs, but is now right down to less than 400 (appears other areas may also toast subs).
Precisely what is Jersey Mike’s trying to do now? I’d as if you to do a visual exercise in nostalgia: imagine you’re in a surf shack deli on the beach in Jersey. There is a big glass case showcasing the meats. There is certainly sand tracked in on the floor, and waves lapping outside as Bruce Springsteen plays a live set where he tells the long version from the story about his dad through the River and everyone cries while eating saltwater taffy. That’s the Jersey Mike’s decor. Except instead of everything that, it’s only a few scattered tables and booths, and also the only indication of the beach is literally an indication of a beach, along with 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 an expensive creative director with a fancy advertising agency to look at a lot of Jersey Mike’s commercials and provide thoughts: “They’re clearly opting for the organization lunch crowd — characters are usually inside their 20s and 30s, large amount of office shots, not families. Voiceover talent is same age because the target audience, as well as the style is terse, and ‘clever?’ The final card always shows a wrapped up sub snagged by way of a consumer, which, again, makes me think they don’t expect you to definitely eat there. And the tagline ‘A Sub Above’ is not really exactly ‘Just Do It’ or ‘Imported from Detroit,’ but I guess it gets over the message that their sub is better than competitors.”
As his or her advertising and limited decor suggest, Jersey Mike’s is wanting to own the quick business lunch, office catering, and delivery apps crowd by proving that they’re a higher quality choice than Subway on the same speed and other price point, and never a good deal of step down from the actual local deli, however with more convenience, speed, and wall-mounted surfboards. Jones confirmed that they were leaning in hard to delivery, mentioning they had national contracts with all major online delivery companies, and had even integrated UberEats and DoorDash to their proprietary POS system. This can be interesting, because sandwich shops inherently have more of a mix of blue collar and city workers, and college and high school students, therefore if they feel that’s already their base, the push for the white collar crowd seems aspirational.
More than that, Jersey Mike’s itself is fascinating, partly because of its bold growth strategy, partly due to its unique environment (Jones explained every franchisee must come to Jersey to get a week, then spend some time in the field at certified training store), but mostly because, in this particular heavily saturated time as more food entrepreneurs try to branch out into increasingly niche corners in the fast casual market, it seems strangely retro for a throwback sub shop from the Jersey shore to bet it could carve out a big slice from the working American lunch scene. You will find, which 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
The Way I did it: During the period of per month, I went 3 x to 2 different Northern California Jersey Mike’s locations. Overall, I attempted ten sandwiches and three desserts. Per the ethics of such reviews, I didn’t inform anyone at Jersey Mike’s I was coming, I purchased all of my food, and I didnt even join Shore Points, although 48 would’ve gotten me a free mini size sub.
Bonus Disclaimer: Item availability can vary from franchise to franchise (unfortunately, not everybody stocks TastyKakes).
Now back to the cheesesteak.
The Great Stuff:
In my opinion, to be able to qualify for glory, a cheesesteak must posses this Hylian Triforce of elements:
1) The roll must be toasty and warm and able to withstand the grease of the melted cheese, meat, and onions/peppers without sogging through.
2) The chopped steak must be crispy and tender, without an abundance of the fatty, inedible bits that bounce your teeth back once you bite down.
3) The cheese (Whiz or American) must be in the correct melty consistency to do something as a binding agent for the meat, cheese and onions without overwhelming the entire production.
The cheesesteak at Jersey Mikes menu had those elements. The roll, which the woman on the counter told me was baked each morning from dough shipped out of Jersey (an organization spokesman confirmed this, telling me the secret to the bread will be the Jersey water! and this a longtime bread supplier in Jersey ships the dough out fresh to locations all over the country), was rxdwsn and toasty and flaky and held as much as the greasy aspects of the sandwich. The steak was chopped correctly and without those chewy fatty gristle bits frequently apparent in off-Philly cheesesteak productions. The onions and peppers tasted like real vegetables with a few bite but were not over greasy and oily. The white American cheese hugged all those elements together without suffocating them, similar to an excellent parent should, RIGHT DAD?