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 prices CEO Peter Cancro started working at a place called Mike’s Subs at age 14. When he was a senior in senior 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 guarantee his loan. His coach did, and then he became the proud owner of Mike’s at the age of 17.
After that he opened some more stores, but it wasnt until 1987 that he started franchising and added Jersey for the name. In a conversation with Jersey Mike’s President Hoyt Jones, he told me in the end of 2019 they’ll maintain 49 states (sorry, Alaska) and have near 1,700 stores, with 200 freshly opened in 2019. A 2018 Inc. magazine story quotes Cancro as saying, We’re just getting started and continues to discuss how, over the next 5 years, they wish to add another 1,500 locations.
Do you need some competitor context? Subway, quite alarmingly, has nearly 45,000 locations. Odds are like one in two you’re standing in one 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 real rival to Subway thanks to that heated treadmill oven that toasted their subs, but has become down to under 400 (ends up other areas could also toast subs).
What exactly is Jersey Mike’s seeking to do now? I’d as if you to perform 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 sand tracked in on the floor, and waves lapping outside as Bruce Springsteen plays a live set where he tells the long version in the story about his dad throughout the River and everybody cries while eating saltwater taffy. That’s the Jersey Mike’s decor. Except rather than all of that, it’s only a few scattered tables and booths, as well as the only sign of the beach is literally an indication of a beach, as well as a surfboard on the wall. But you’ve still got the deli case!
But what exactly are they thinking?!? So that you can 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 organization lunch crowd — characters are always inside their 20s and 30s, great deal of office shots, not families. Voiceover talent is same age since the audience, and also 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 one to eat there. And also the tagline ‘A Sub Above’ is not really exactly ‘Just Do It’ or ‘Imported from Detroit,’ however i guess it gets across the message that the sub is preferable over competitors.”
His or her advertising and limited decor suggest, Jersey Mike’s is attempting to possess the fast business lunch, office catering, and delivery apps crowd by proving that they’re an increased quality choice than Subway in the same speed and other price point, rather than much of a step down from your actual local deli, but 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 of major online delivery companies, and had even integrated UberEats and DoorDash to their proprietary POS system. This is interesting, because sandwich shops inherently get more of a mixture of blue collar and city workers, and college and high school students, therefore if they think that’s already their base, the push for that white collar crowd seems aspirational.
More than that, Jersey Mike’s itself is fascinating, partly due to the bold growth strategy, partly due to the unique environment (Jones explained every franchisee must visit Jersey to get a week, then spend some time within the field at certified training store), but mostly because, in this heavily saturated time as more food entrepreneurs attempt to branch out into increasingly niche corners in the fast casual market, it seems strangely retro to get a throwback sub shop through the Jersey shore to bet it can carve out a large slice of the working American lunch scene. And yes, which had been 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 made it happen: Throughout a month, I went three times to 2 different Northern California Jersey Mike’s locations. In total, I used ten sandwiches and three desserts. Per the ethics of those reviews, I didn’t inform anyone at Jersey Mike’s I was coming, I bought all my food, and I didnt even join Shore Points, despite the fact that 48 would’ve gotten us a free mini size sub.
Bonus Disclaimer: Item availability can vary from franchise to franchise (unfortunately, not everyone stocks TastyKakes).
Now back to the cheesesteak.
The Best Stuff:
For me, to be able to be eligible for glory, a cheesesteak must posses this Hylian Triforce of elements:
1) The roll should be toasty and warm capable to withstand the grease from the melted cheese, meat, and onions/peppers without sogging through.
2) The chopped steak has to be crispy and tender, without a great deal of the fatty, inedible bits that bounce your teeth back whenever you bite down.
3) The cheese (Whiz or American) must be from the correct melty consistency to do something as being a binding agent for your meat, cheese and onions without overwhelming the whole production.
The cheesesteak at Jersey Mike’s had all of those elements. The roll, which the woman on the counter explained was baked in the morning from dough shipped out of Jersey (an organization spokesman confirmed this, telling me the key for the bread is definitely the Jersey water! and that a longtime bread supplier in Jersey ships the dough out fresh to locations around the country), was rxdwsn and toasty and flaky and held approximately the greasy elements 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 many bite but were not over greasy and oily. The white American cheese hugged all of the elements together without suffocating them, much like a good parent should, RIGHT DAD?