Where did Jersey Mikes come from? Much 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 menu 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 he became the proud owner of Mike’s at the age of 17.
From there he opened a few more stores, however it wasnt until 1987 which 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 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 starting out and continues to discuss how, within the next five 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 out of two you’re standing in just one at this time. 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 (ends up other places could also toast subs).
Precisely what is Jersey Mike’s attempting to do now? I’d just like 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 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 throughout the River and everyone cries while eating saltwater taffy. That’s the Jersey Mike’s decor. Except rather than all of that, it’s just a few scattered tables and booths, and also the only indication of the beach is an indication of a beach, along with a surfboard on the wall. But you’ve still got the deli case!
But what exactly are they thinking?!? To be able to ascertain their intentions, I begged an expensive creative director in a fancy advertising agency to view a variety of Jersey Mike’s commercials and present thoughts: “They’re clearly opting for the organization lunch crowd — characters will always be within their 20s and 30s, lot of office shots, not families. Voiceover talent is same age since the target market, and the style is terse, and ‘clever?’ The conclusion card always shows a wrapped up sub snagged by way of a consumer, which, again, makes me think they don’t expect you to eat there. And also the tagline ‘A Sub Above’ is not exactly ‘Just Do It’ or ‘Imported from Detroit,’ but I guess it gets across the message their sub is preferable over competitors.”
His or her advertising and limited decor suggest, Jersey Mike’s is attempting to obtain the quick business lunch, office catering, and delivery apps crowd by proving that they’re a higher quality choice than Subway in the same speed and other price point, and never much of a step down out of your actual local deli, but with more convenience, speed, and wall-mounted surfboards. Jones confirmed they were leaning in difficult to delivery, mentioning they had national contracts with all major online delivery companies, and had even integrated UberEats and DoorDash within their proprietary POS system. This really is interesting, because sandwich shops inherently get more of a mix of blue collar and city workers, and college and school students, in case they believe that’s already their base, the push for that white collar crowd seems aspirational.
More than this, Jersey Mike’s is fascinating, partly because of its bold growth strategy, partly because of its unique environment (Jones explained every franchisee must arrived at Jersey for a week, then invest some time in the field at certified training store), but mostly because, in this particular heavily saturated time as more and more food entrepreneurs try to branch out into increasingly niche corners from the fast casual market, it seems like strangely retro for a throwback sub shop through the Jersey shore to bet it could carve out a large slice from 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
The Way I made it happen: During the period of 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 such reviews, I didn’t inform anyone at Jersey Mike’s I was coming, I bought most of 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 greatly from franchise to franchise (unfortunately, not everyone stocks TastyKakes).
Now to the cheesesteak.
The Best Stuff:
In my opinion, in order to be eligible 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 from 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) should be from the correct melty consistency to do something as a binding agent for that meat, cheese and onions without overwhelming the whole production.
The cheesesteak at Jersey menu had all of those elements. The roll, in which the woman in the counter told me was baked every morning from dough shipped out of Jersey (an organization spokesman confirmed this, telling me the trick for the bread is definitely the Jersey water! and that 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 devoid of those chewy fatty gristle bits so 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 those elements together without suffocating them, similar to an excellent parent should, RIGHT DAD?