Jimmy John's | Franchised Sandwich Restaurant

Jimmy John's is a franchised sandwich restaurant owned by Jimmy John Liautaud. The restaurant was founded in 1983 and has since grown to over 1000 stores, with many locations in college towns. The company headquarters is located in Champaign, Illinois, United States.

After founder Jimmy John Liautaud graduated second to last in his class from Elgin Academy (Elgin, Illinois) in 1982, his father presented him with three options: joining the Army, going to college or starting a business. He chose to start a business. Inspired by the Chicago area restaurant chain Portillo's, Liautaud's father lent him $25,000 to start his own hot dog business. If the business was successful, Liautaud would own 52% of it and his father would own 48%. If it failed, he would join the Army.

After Liautaud realized starting a hot dog business would cost nearly twice the amount of the loan, he decided to open a sandwich shop instead. A nearby neighbor told Liautaud that the secret of a successful sandwich was in the bread. He started baking bread in his mother's kitchen, bought the most expensive meats from Dominick's, and had family members vote on the best four sandwiches (out of six) he created.

The first Jimmy John's opened in a garage in Charleston, Illinois on January 13, 1983 with used equipment and no menu or outdoor advertisement, simply selling the four sandwiches and 25-cent Cokes. After giving samples out around town, his business began to thrive. He especially catered to college students at Eastern Illinois University; and part of that success came from his willingness to deliver to dorms, which many other local establishments did not do. After two friends backed out as managers, he ran the store himself for the first few years, working seven days a week from open to close.

In April 1985, he bought out his father's side of the business and became sole owner. He opened his second store in Macomb, Illinois, and, after manager William "Billy" Burns was killed in a car accident, he ran the second store himself for a few months. Liautaud went on to honor Burns by naming the "Billy Club" sandwich after him, which remains on the menu to this day. He would later open several more stores, and he developed a prototype before franchising began in 1993 with the help of Francorp.

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