If you live anywhere in the Midwest chances are you have consumed a Jimmy John’s Sandwich at least once. Known for their gourmet meats and cheeses and freshly baked Italian bread, Jimmy John’s has grown from a single shop in Charleston, IL to a franchise with over 400 locations nationwide. The founder, owner and CEO of the company is, believe it or not, Jimmy John Liautaud.
Jimmy Liautaud desperately wanted to open his own restaurant business after high school selling the food he loved most, Chicago style hot dogs. His father on the other hand had something else in mind for Jimmy which included boot camp, a buzz cut and lots of running. A deal was soon struck between the two: lend Jimmy $25,000.00 to start a restaurant business and if that didn’t work out enlist in the army. Jimmy got right to work doing research and finding the necessary equipment to run a successful hot dog shop. He soon found out that equipment costs exceeded the amount of money agreed upon by his father and he wasn’t likely to get any more. He soon chanced upon another venture that required little equipment and supplies that he could easily afford with his startup money.
Jimmy John’s Gourmet Sandwiches was born in January, 1983 in a not-so-great location. Jimmy even had to start delivering his sandwiches to meet quota due to the poor location of his shop. The first year saw Jimmy working from days open to days close to keep the restaurant open but at the end of the year it looked like the business had turned a profit. In 1986 and 1987 Jimmy opened his second and third shops and in 1994 sold his first franchised restaurant. The only thing holding the business back was obtaining better locations which he resolved by selling a portion of the company to Weston Presidio, a private equity firm, that closed on over 100 locations in the first year of partnership. The business has been making great sandwiches and growing ever since.