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The Fastest-Growing Restaurant Chain in The Country is Not What You’d Expect

Fast-casual restaurants are taking the place of fast food restaurants. Today, people want to eat at Shake Shack and Five Guys in favor of McDonald’s and Wendy’s. There is a space in the market now for fast-casual pizza, chicken, and sandwich restaurants to  grow, and Jersey Mike’s Subs, a sandwich company that started in 1956 with one location in a New Jersey beach town is making a move.

All Sub – No-stitute ?

A photo posted by Jersey Mike’s Subs (@jerseymikes) on


Bloomberg reported today that Jersey Mike’s is the fastest-growing restaurant chain in the country. Though the chain flies mostly under the radar in the media, they’ve been quietly growing. Nation’s Restaurant News has named it the fastest-growing restaurant chain for the last three years. At the end of 2013, the chain had about 700 stores. Since then that number has more than doubled- 1,500 locations are either open or in development. Sales are also on the rise. At the end of 2013, they were at $402 million, and according to research company Technomic, last year they hit $675 million.

While Jersey Mike’s and Jimmy John’s is growing, Subway is falling behind. According to Technomic, sales have fallen 3.5 percent in the last two years. The fact that their former spokesperson Jared Fogle is now in prison for sex crimes also hasn’t helped them. Though Jersey Mike’s is more expensive than Subway, the meals are healthier and taste better; they also don’t have the stigma that can go along with being labeled a “fast food” restaurant. At Jersey Mike’s, the meat is sliced to order instead of being pulled out of a package, and hot sandwiches are cooked on grills instead of nuked in the microwave. People are willing to pay up for that.

Like customers, franchise owners see the rise fast-casual market, and they want a piece of it. Jim Denburg, who used to own Dominos restaurants before selling them and opening up Smashburger stores, has recently partnered with Jersey Mike’s. He plans to open several locations on Long Island. Denburg spoke to Bloomberg, saying, “Americans love a great sub, and in most places the choices are limited… Jersey Mike’s fills that void.”

The spike in sales over the last few years is going to translate into big name recognition come Fall. Jersey Mike’s will be an official sponsor of Notre Dame home football games on NBC this season.

[image via Instagram @jerseymikes]

[H/T Bloomberg]

Follow Dana Eisenberg on Twitter.

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