Madison Burroughs started her restaurants career working as a crew member at Jersey Mike’s in high school, then became a general manager, and now—more than a decade later—she has not left the company and has become a first-time franchisee of her own Jersey Mike’s store in Delevan, Wisc.
Burroughs was named last year to the Nation’s Restaurant News Power List, which in 2023 honored the best general managers in the restaurant industry, and she was also named Manager of the Year at the 2023 Jersey Mike’s National Conference. Now, less than a year after those accolades, Burroughs has opened her own store in partnership with Mark Michalak, her former boss and franchisee at the store she used to manage in Zurich, Ill.
“I really love my job; I've been working my way up starting from crew member to shift lead to assistant general manager,” Burroughs said. “Before all of this, my franchisee Mark let me buy into my store to be part-owner, so I was already kind-of business partners with him in the store that I was managing. Then I was thinking, ‘what’s next?’ and this fell into place for us.”
Burroughs’ new store is in a smaller town with a more tight-knit community. They took over a former mortgage business and rebuilt is as a Jersey Mike’s. As part of the grand opening festivities in mid-January, they held a fundraiser to support Delavan-Darien School District. Customers who participated could receive a free regular sub in exchange for donating at least $3 to the school district. Then, the next week, they did a similar fundraiser for another local school district.
Thanks in part to the closeness of the community and the school fundraisers, word got out fast about their store, Burroughs said, so that even though they weren’t supposed to open the store on that first day until 10 a.m., they began serving customers at 9:30 a.m. because there were so many people lined up already.
“We're getting to know our customers, and you can't do that if they're not coming through the door,” she said. “You can really feel the community here. [My business partner said] this was one of the best turnouts for a fundraiser he’s ever seen. When we were open for just over a week, I’m already starting to get to know some customers by name.”
One of the biggest challenges for Burroughs has been making that transition from running a store and guiding employees/ordering food as a manager, to becoming the person who guides the manager instead. That’s why, she said, it’s so incredibly important to hire the right people. If you take care of your people, they won’t want to leave, and that’s the secret sauce to getting a lower turnover rate, Burroughs said.
Burroughs and Michalak plan to open a few more stores together, including one in Illinois in April and then another within the next year, and she doesn’t plan on going anywhere else with her career.
“I have a wonderful support system through all of this,” Burroughs said. “When the line’s out the door and right next to you is your team and your business partner. Obviously, the CEO, Peter Cancro, giving me the opportunity to give me the Manager of the Year award, and giving me a store, that has changed my life.”
Contact Joanna at [email protected]