You can be on Entrepreneur’s cover!

#8 on the Franchise 500: By the End of 2020, Jersey Mike's Will Hit $2 Billion in Sales The #8 company on our Franchise 500 list has seen explosive growth from existing franchisees opening new locations.

By Terry Rice

entrepreneur daily

This story appears in the January 2020 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

Courtesy of Jersey Mike's

Over the past decade, Jersey Mike's has nearly quadrupled its total store count, and since 2015, 80 percent of that growth comes from existing franchisees opening new stores. "That's telling you two things," says Mike Manzo, the company's COO. "One, the franchisees are happy, and two, they're profitable enough to be investing back into their brand."

The stats are a point of pride, but they're especially impressive given Jersey Mike's unlikely trajectory. The sub shop was founded as a single location on the Jersey shore in 1956, and 15 years later, the third owner, Victor Merlo, sold it to a 17-year-old counter worker, Peter Cancro, who is still CEO today. Manzo worked alongside Cancro in the original store, and while the two are no longer kids, they continue the push to reach new, often young customers.

Related: After Nearly Going Bankrupt, How Franchise Jersey Mike's Fought Back and Won

This year, Jersey Mike's updated its mobile app to allow remote ordering and Apple Pay. To promote it, the company ran a 16-stop tour of college campuses, using pop-up shops to hand out free subs to students who downloaded the app.

The promotion ties into a deeply held company principle: "We give to give." Nine years ago, Jersey Mike's dubbed March the "month of giving," and it began inviting customers to donate to a local charity partner. On the last Wednesday of the month, each franchisee kicks in 100 percent of the day's sales, and many employees even volunteer their paychecks. "Last year, we raised more than $7 million," says Manzo. "And this year, we're looking to go over $8 million."

By the end of 2020, Jersey Mike's expects to have nearly 2,000 restaurants and $2 billion in system-wide sales. It all goes to show: Sometimes the most reliable growth comes from the most humble roots.

Check out our complete Franchise 500 rankings, or view more stories here.

Terry Rice

Entrepreneur Staff

Business Development Expert-in-Residence

Terry Rice is the Business Development Expert-in-Residence at Entrepreneur and Managing Director of Growth & Partnerships at Good People Digital; an agency that provides marketing and monetization solutions for entrepreneurs. He writes a newsletter about how to build your business and personal resilience and personal brand in just 5 minutes per week and created a revenue optimization checklist to help you multiply your income potential. 

Want to be an Entrepreneur Leadership Network contributor? Apply now to join.

Side Hustle

I've Had a Secret Side Hustle for Decades. It Keeps Tens of Thousands of Dollars in My Pocket — and Gets Me Into Places I Wouldn't Go Otherwise.

When Cliff Smith lost his job, he picked up an under-the-radar gig that would make it possible to keep dining out — something he and his wife love to do.

Business Ideas

63 Small Business Ideas to Start in 2024

We put together a list of the best, most profitable small business ideas for entrepreneurs to pursue in 2024.

Making a Change

Expand International Communication with Lifetime Access to Rosetta Stone Language Learning

This proven and popular platform has helped millions of users learn new languages.


You Need a Community With Shared Values to Find Long-Term Success — Here's How to Cultivate It.

Entrepreneurs need to remember this growth strategy: nurturing a purpose-driven community of like-minded entrepreneurs around them.

Business News

Google Is Reportedly Considering a Subscription Fee for AI-Enhanced Internet Searches

We had access to the core Google AI search experience, which is currently being tried in beta for select users. Here's what we found.