SOMERSET – It won’t be long before you can take a good Starbucks coffee and a hot Philly style cheese steak sandwich in one go.
And by June, you should be able to add freshly baked burritos and other Mexican menu items to the mix by walking a few more yards.
Jersey Mike’s Subs Franchisee Bob Quinlan is targeting a March opening date for his Somerset sandwich shop inside a commercial building just below Fairfield Inn & Suites.
Fellow franchise owner Dustin DeBoer hopes his first Pancheros Mexican Grill effort will open in the same building in June.
The one-year-old Route 6 hotel and four-unit commercial building are located in what has become the Fairfield Commons. The 14+ acre property sits across from a plaza containing the Home Depot Somerset store.
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Over the past year, the only tenant in the one-story commercial building has been a Starbucks coffee shop, which since opening has operated strictly on the drive-thru lane.
This suits Quinlan perfectly.
He recounted how, when he and his wife had some time to kill before catching a flight at Los Angeles International Airport, they drove to nearby El Segundo to pull over at a Jersey Mike’s Subs. , which is not far from a Starbucks.
Quinlan says he was impressed.
âIt was one of the busiest (Jersey Mike) I have seen,â he said.
Despite the obvious and inherent stylistic disparities, Quinlan says that as far as he’s concerned, Jersey Mike’s and Starbucks âcomplimentâ each other when it comes to driving sales.
A new entry in the Mexican food chain
DeBour, 30, says the Pancheros Mexican Grill in Fairfield Commons is the first time he’s been involved as a partner in a franchise deal.
The Connecticut native and Rhode Island resident, however, is no stranger to Somerset.
Its franchise partners, Douglas Stack and Kevin O’Shea, own the almost adjacent Sonic fast food restaurant on route 6, which opened in 2016, as well as another in Warwick, Rhode Island.
DeBour says he works for Stack and O’Shea as the operations manager at these two Sonics.
“It’s going really well,” he said of the Somerset Sonic.
Pancheros Mexican Grill in Somerset, noted DeBour, will be only the third so far in New England to the Iowa City restaurant chain. The others are located in two cities in Connecticut.
Somerset and Fall River currently each have an independent Mexican restaurant called the Fiesta Mexican Restaurant.
Fall River also has two Taco Bell restaurants and a site where a Mexican Grill Chipotle is now under construction. And a Taco Bell on Route 6 in Swansea is being planned, according to the town’s planning council.
But DeBour said he’s convinced his Pancheros will fare well against any Mexican-style fast food chain.
âI like Chipotle,â he said, âbut we’re better. “
Jersey Mike arrives in Somerset
Quinlan, 58, has been a Jersey Mike’s Subs franchisee since December 2017, when he opened his first restaurant in Hanover.
Less than a year later, he opened a second store in Fall River in the bustling neighborhood South Coast Market mall.
Quinlan describes Mike’s Fall River Jersey, now run by Jennifer and Roger West – who he says also run his partner’s and partner’s Seekonk sub-store – as “a great artist.”
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After opening the stores in Hanover and Fall River himself, Quinlan said it quickly became apparent that he would need help if he wanted to expand his wallet.
He says he was fortunate enough to enlist Al Graziano as a partner. The two of them, he said, not counting Somerset, have opened seven Jersey Mike’s in places such as Quincy, Stoughton and Swampscott.
Quinlan says Graziano, 30, previously worked for Jersey Mike’s as a national coach and helped him start his Hanover restaurant.
âThis was his last tour of duty,â he said of Graziano, who left the company to become an independent consultant before deciding to go into business with Quinlan as a full-time franchise partner. .
Quinlan says the two decided to establish a presence in Somerset after driving past the Fairfield Commons property.
âThe hotel is a draw for sure, but that’s not the main factor. It’s the traffic, âhe said, adding thatâ there are a lot of hungry entrepreneurs at Home Depot who love sandwiches â.
One of the oldest Jersey Mike’s in the area opened in 2002 on Route 44 in Raynham.
Jersey Mike’s Subs, on its website, says it charges a franchise fee of $ 18,500. Quinlan says the total investment for his Somerset restaurant – including construction, inventory and employee training – will amount to $ 500,000.
He said he and Graziano got a loan from Rockland Trust Bank, which Quinlan calls “a great partner”.
Quinlan said he plans to hire between 15 and 25 employees, half full-time and half part-time. The starting hourly wage, he said, is $ 15.
The 1,500 square foot space inside the 554 GAR Highway, he said, will have 20 customer seats in kiosks and a counter.
Quinlan said he made a point of trying to buy produce from local businesses, including vegetables from Fall River. Nasiff Fruit Company. Its meats, however, come from food service provider Sysco.
Quinlan says that one thing that sets Jersey Mike’s apart from other national sub-store chains is the fact that all meats and cheeses are freshly sliced ââfor every order.
He said morning workers also slice onions, lettuce and tomatoes, and four varieties of bread are baked on site each day.
Quinlan says catering is an important part of his business with subs sold by box and bag.
Customers who don’t want bread have the option of ordering a âSub in a Tubâ with ingredients minus sandwich buns placed in a container.
The path to becoming an owner and becoming a franchisee
Quinlan said he became a Jersey Subs franchisee a few years after selling a printing house he owned in Woburn.
He says the first time he ate at one of the restaurants was when he and his wife, originally from New Jersey, were visiting the Jersey Shore, not far from where Jersey Mike did. his beginnings.
âI liked the product and the atmosphere,â he said.
Quinlan says it hasn’t been easy in recent months to find enough candidates: “We definitely felt the pressure,” he said, referring to a common challenge faced by many important employers. on novice workers.
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But even before the onslaught of the COVID-19 pandemic, Quinlan said he discovered early in his career as a sandwich shop franchisee how daunting staff turnover can be.
âAt the end of my first year in Hanover, I sent in 125 W-2 (tax) forms,â he said in explanation.
Quinlan says that’s why he always has his eyes on young talent.
âIf I see a kid in the line (waiting for an order) who seems to have a bit of energy, I say, ‘How would you like to have an interview?’ “
Charles Winokoor can be contacted at [email protected]. Support local journalism and subscribe to The Herald News today.