Thursday, June 09, 2011

What? Another Sandwich Shop!

Didn't we just get rid of all the Quiznos in Waco? It seems that everyone of them closed more than a year ago. Now along comes Jimmy John's. Can they make it if Quiznos couldn't?

Jimmy John Liautaud founded Jimmy John's Gourmet Sandwich Shops in 1983 when he was 19-years old. After creating four sandwiches for his family to test, Liautaud opened the first Jimmy John's in a converted garage in Charleston, Illinois.

Twenty-eight years later Jimmy John Liautaud is still the CEO of a chain of over 1000 stores. Jimmy John's has reproduced at the rate of 200 units per year from 2008-2010, with an additional 1,500 units planned. About 95% of the current restaurants are franchise-owned. In January 2007, Liautaud sold a 33% stake to Weston Presidio a San Francisco-based private-equity firm. He retains 67% ownership of the company.

When it comes to rating sandwich shops, for me it is all about the bread. If you like toasted - you could be Quiznos crazy. If you like crusty, may be you are a Blimpie buddy. Did you grow up in Austin eating Schlotzsky's sourdough? There are even people who love the spongy-soft white bread of Subway. There is no explaining taste but which ever brand you prefer it is probably because you like the bread it is served on.

I like Jimmy John's bread. With a handful of cookbooks checked out from his local library, Liautaud baked several different recipes until he found the one he liked. It is not too soft and not too hard - more like a French or Italian baguette. They use only fresh baked bread and quickly sell the extra loaves for a bargain price.

I like the meat. The substantial amount served on each sandwich makes the price seem like a good value. Although Jimmy John's sells mostly their owned designed combos, they are generally pretty good mixtures of meats and cheeses. They do seem to lack some of the flexibility of some other sandwich shops. I liked the BILLY CLUB® and the ITALIAN NIGHT CLUB®.

Jimmy John's is not a place for a lot of extras as compared to a McAlister's Deli or a Panera Bread Company. It's subs, soda, and chips plain and simple. And while we are on the subject of soda ... the choices are limited and there is no Diet Dr Pepper.

If I wanted a good sandwich for lunch, I would go to:

1. Panera

2. Jason's Deli

3. Schlotzsky's

4. Jimmy John's

5. Newk's