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About Jimmy John’s

The first Jimmy John’s sandwich shop was opened by 19-year old Jimmy John Liautaud in 1983 in Charleston, Illinois. Graduating second to last in his high school class, Jimmy knew college wasn’t for him. His father wanted him to join the Army, but Jimmy wanted to open a Chicago hot dog stand. After many discussions, Jimmy’s Dad agreed to give him a loan for $25,000 on the condition that if the business wasn’t profitable after one year, Jimmy would enlist.

Jimmy spent the summer of 1982 visiting hot dog stands all over the Chicagoland area, creating his menu, and making a list of equipment. His first lesson was when he learned that he didn’t have the money to buy the equipment, so it was time to find Plan B. As luck would have it, he visited a sandwich shop that summer and learned that they operated the shop with only a meat slicer, refrigerator, and cash register. He knew he could afford that, so he went back home and got started! He learned to bake bread in his mom’s kitchen, he bought high-quality deli meats and cheese at the grocery store and started making sandwiches. He came up with six, invited his family to try them, they picked the top four sandwiches, and he had his menu.

Jimmy had two cousins attending Eastern Illinois University, so he loaded up and headed down to Charleston to find a spot. He rented a two-car garage in a back alley that had been converted into a pizza joint. The space was surrounded by bars, so he decided he’d stay open late and feed the students after the bars. Sandwiches were $2.10 and Cokes (with no ice since he didn’t have the money for an icemaker) were 25 cents.

Jimmy John’s did $155,000 in sales the first year and made $40,000 profit. Jimmy worked seven days a week, 15 hours a day for $200 per week and he was loving it! He learned his customers by name and started the operational systems and procedures that exist to this day. In May of 1986, Jimmy bought out his dad to become the sole owner of Jimmy John’s. By 1994, Jimmy had opened 10 restaurants, had no debt, and was living the American Dream!

Over 36 years later, Jimmy John’s is one of the fastest growing Quick-Service Restaurants in America with over 2,800 locations in 43 states. Jimmy John’s serves from-scratch food made with all-natural* meats and real cheese, veggies purchased locally and sliced daily, and fresh bread baked in-house, every four hours, all day, every day.

*No artificial ingredients. Minimally processed (except for caramel color on roast beef). See for details.