Page 14 - Issue 46 Oct2020
P. 14

12 OCTOBER 2020
 Peter Cancro understands the irony.
For a company that is proudly named after its home state, Jersey Mike’s Subs has spent more than 30
That’s all changed in recent years.
“Jersey is going to be one our biggest states for growth,” said Cancro, the founder and CEO of Jersey Mike’s Subs. “It’s about time, but it’s really been an incredible market for us.
So many people come to the shore and they know our name and our brand because the marketing is more powerful than ever. The exposure, the awareness is very strong right now for us.”
The company, which is based in Manasquan, has grown to nearly 2,000 stores across 48 states. It’s now experiencing its most significant growth to date in northern and central New Jersey — even as it grapples with the effects of the
pandemic — with about 100 stores currently open north of Interstate 195 and another 60 locations in development.
Those plans are largely driven by local operators, Cancro notes, as they have been since the 45-year-old company started franchising in 1987. Soon thereafter, the chain opened
its first stores outside New Jersey in Ohio and Tennessee before entering additional markets such as California and Seattle, often with a New Jersey resident as the franchisee.
He added that Jersey Mike’s has never actively targeted a specific market for expansion. North Jersey was no exception: Through 2014, the company had only a handful of stores
north of Middlesex County — namely, in Hanover, Westfield and Northvale — but the region is now seeing the type of organic growth that the brand has enjoyed elsewhere.
“We just didn’t really have anyone that wanted to grow there, and
then all of a sudden it happened,” Cancro said. “We started going up to North Jersey and then people saw it, customers come in and say, ‘Wow we’d love to get involved,’ and that’s how it grows — from within, (with) customers and owner-operators opening new stores.”
Today, the Jersey Mike’s footprint includes nearly three dozen locations across Bergen, Morris, Essex, Union and Middlesex counties, along with additional stores in Passaic and Hudson.
“We’ve got a long way to go,” said Cancro, a former teenage employee of the original Mike’s Subs in Point Pleasant Beach, which he purchased in 1975 to launch what is now Jersey Mike’s. The company, recently named the nation’s fastest-growing sandwich chain, is targeting $2 billion in sales next year.
were suddenly halted earlier this year when COVID-19 cases began to spike in the U.S. As governors across the country issued stay-at-home orders, existing Jersey Mike’s stores saw their sales tumble from mid- to late March despite being considered an essential business.
“With mostly takeout, we were allowed to stay open, but we got hit the first two weeks,” Cancro said, as many customers didn’t initially realize that their stores were still operating. To address the challenge, Cancro lined up appearances on network
and cable news shows to spread the message that Jersey Mike’s was still open, with safety measures in place.
Sales began to rebound, he said, thanks in large part to the company’s
 Peter Cancro
years expanding into dozens
of other U.S. markets. For most of that time, the franchisor never truly ventured north in New Jersey beyond
its original base of Monmouth and Ocean counties, despite a following of customers from as far away as New York City.
After decades of growth nationally,
Jersey Mike’s eyes major expansion in Garden State
By Joshua Burd
 Jersey Mike’s Subs recently announced plans to retrofit and modernize nearly 2,000 stores across its franchise system. The Manasquan-based company will invest roughly $150 million, or $75,000 per location, to create a cleaner, contemporary look that honors its heritage.
Courtesy: Jersey Mike’s Subs

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