At the corner of Gold Street at 80 Maiden Lane in New York, you’ll find the very first Jersey Mike’s location in Manhattan. The location was opened on July 30, 2013 by Henry Gallo, Jersey Mike’s Area Director and Franchise Owner, which comes over half a century after the company was founded. A long time coming if you ask any of the diehard Jersey Mike’s fans out there. I got a chance to catch up with Henry and talk about the monumental task of developing the quickly growing brand throughout The Big Apple.
How did you get your start with Jersey Mike’s?
I grew up mostly in Wall, N.J., one town over from Pt. Pleasant, where the Jersey Mike’s story began. I graduated from Rutgers University in 2004. My first encounter with Jersey Mike’s was as a teenager, playing sports in and around the community. Jersey Mike’s was always there, supporting all the local schools and youth programs. My first job was at a Jersey Mike’s as a young teenager with a local franchisee, Bryan Davenport. What a great guy! Through all my experiences during high school and college, watching from a distance the impact Jersey Mike’s made, I knew that I wanted to be as great a person as Jersey Mike’s was a company. After college, when I was given a chance to join the Jersey Mike’s family, there was no way I could pass up that opportunity.
What is it like developing a large new territory for Jersey Mike’s?
Jersey Mike’s got its start at the Jersey Shore so you’d think New York and the Northeast would be a stronghold for the brand, but while we’ve expanded across the country, we are just now focusing on East Coast development including New York, Connecticut, Eastern Pennsylvania, Delaware and New Jersey. Opening our first Manhattan location was a huge milestone. We are gratified by the enthusiastic welcome from the community and can’t wait for our next opening in Midtown in a few weeks.
Developing any large/new territory has major challenges – the NYC market even more so due to its dominance as an urban epicenter. In a location where competition comes in unheard of quantities and in every variety, we are focused on establishing our brand’s position by serving our customers the highest quality, freshest made sub in the industry and giving back to our local community.
What’s your greatest challenge in doing so? Do you have any fears?
Everything is a challenge in a market that is continuously under a microscope because of every concept’s desire to be here. Of course I have fears – they keep me running 24 hours a day – but I’ve seen the passionate following of Jersey Mike’s throughout the country and am confident our neighbors will love the brand too and see our restaurant as a social gathering place they want to come visit every day.
What’s the most satisfying part about taking on a challenge like this?
The most satisfying part is developing successful people. We are employing nearly 50 employees at our Maiden Lane site alone. I measure my success based on how many people I can provide opportunities to.