Last month, Chris Kenny and three of his four brothers opened their third Jersey Mike’s in San Diego County, this one in the former Pick-Up Stix space on Garnet Avenue in Pacific Beach.
Chris said they weren’t worried about the sluggish economy or even the nearby Subway, whose international sandwich chain boasts more than 36,000 restaurants.
“We’re very confident about our product and people always have to eat,” said the 28-year-old Chris Kenny, who has a degree from Monmouth University, where he majored in history and political science.
“Sometimes,” he said, “investing in a down market gives you the most opportunity to be really successful …. This is America and I’m confident it will make a comeback.”
The brothers’ two-year-old Solana Beach restaurant and their four-month-old franchise in La Jolla, he said, are doing well. In fact, “The Solana Beach Jersey Mike’s is the most successful out of 650 franchises and company-owned stores.”
The Garnet Avenue restaurant becomes the 12th in the county.
Comparing their chain to the competition, Kenny said, “Ours is more of a premium product. We slice our own meats. The roast beef is cooked in house. The tuna salad is made on the premises and we bake our own bread.”
He said Jersey Mike’s restaurants are run more like “mom-and-pop delis” than many chains.
“We have a relationship with our customers on a personal level.”
The subs are East Coast-style, using olive oil, red wine vinegar and oregano instead of mustard and mayonnaise. Sandwiches are topped with lettuce, tomatoes and onions, unless customers choose to customize their subs.
Within the first week of opening, Jersey Mike’s went through 3,600 giant loaves of bread, or 6,200 “regular-size” sandwiches, according to Kenny. And because the corporate culture is to support local communities, the restaurant gave out 5,000 cards for “free” subs, asking customers to donate at least $1 to benefit Mission Bay High School.
It’s fun working with his three older brothers, Kenny said, admitting, “It definitely has its moments.”
While he talks, he dives into a plate of eggs and “Taylor Ham.” Similar to Canadian bacon, the pork roll is the traditional Jersey Mike’s breakfast meat, which Kenny has eaten for years.
His favorite sub is the Club Supreme, made with turkey, roast beef, bacon and Swiss cheese, for $5.25 for a four-inch mini; $7.50 for an 8-inch regular and $11.95 for a 15- to 16-inch giant. The crowd favorite, Kenny said, is the Original Italian sub, at $7.25 for a regular.
Another favorite is the Philly Cheese Steak, made with thin rib-eye, which is diced on the grill with onions and peppers, at $7.45 for a regular. Omelette subs with Taylor Ham and cheese are $5.12 and served all day. There’s also a variety of wraps.
Of the Kenny brother’s growing venture, Chris said, “It’s exciting and, at times, it’s nerve-wracking. But I didn’t think I would have this much fun doing it.”
• Jersey Mike’s Subs: 1975 Garnet Ave., (858) 224-1880