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2015 Top 100: Why Jimmy John's is the No. 7 fastest-growing chain

This is part of Nation's Restaurant News’ annual Top 100 report, a proprietary census ranking the foodservice industry’s largest restaurant chains and companies by sales and unit data, among other metrics.

Jimmy John’s Gourmet Sandwiches saw its domestic same-store sales grow 19.8 percent in the Latest Year, as it opened a net 307 units, giving it a total of 2,109 locations, of which all but 38 restaurants are franchised.

The chain was founded in Champaign, Ill., in 1983, by 19-year-old Jimmy John Liautaud, who started the concept by delivering to college students. Jimmy John’s hangs its hat on its affordability and speed: Subs start at around $5 and can be delivered in less than 10 minutes.

The chain’s marketing is also irreverent, and uses advertising slogans such as “freaky fast.”  

The menu is simple, with six meats, one type of cheese and two types of bread, in 23 different sandwich combinations. The sandwiches are not toasted, and the chain doesn’t offer soup or salad.

Keys to growth

Simplicity. Jimmy John’s focus on cold sandwiches allows for easy operations and speed of service. Liautaud has claimed that his workers can make a sandwich in 30 seconds.

Sports connections. Apart from counting New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees among its franchisees, Jimmy John’s has been a NASCAR sponsor since 2009, and has also used professional wrestler Brock Lesnar in a promotional capacity.

Consistent leadership. Founder Jimmy John Liautaud remains at the helm of the company, and has maintained a message of consistency and speed, with a healthy dose of irreverence.

Contact Bret Thorn at [email protected]
Follow him on Twitter: @foodwriterdiary

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