Sandwich chain featuring both subs and cheese steaks to make its return to Lawrence with westside location

photo by: Chad Lawhorn/Journal-World

Jersey Mike's Subs, pictured on Sept. 6, 2022, is in the process of opening in the Bauer Farm development near Sixth Street and Wakarusa Drive in west Lawrence.

If you are on a farm and say you want some Jersey Juice, you may find yourself on the business end of an udder. (A Jersey is a breed of dairy cow, for those of you who don’t hang out at a barn.) But soon, there will be a west Lawrence restaurant where some Juice from Jersey means something altogether different.

The Juice at Jersey Mike’s Subs is a special mixture of red wine vinegar and olive oil, and the expanding restaurant chain credits it as one of its keys to success, saying the combo gives its sandwiches a distinctive zing.

Soon enough, Lawrence residents will be able to see for themselves — again.

Jersey Mike’s Subs is set to open on Sept. 14 near the intersection of Sixth Street and Wakarusa Drive in west Lawrence. But it won’t be the first time in town for the restaurant that traces its roots back to a Jersey Shore beach. The sandwich shop had a location along 23rd Street, but it closed four or five years ago.

The new location for Jersey Mike’s is going into the former Burgers by Biggs location in the Bauer Farm development. Burgers by Biggs, if you remember, moved to the Bob Billings and Wakarusa Drive area.

The new Lawrence location is part of an aggressive expansion plan by Jersey Mike’s in the greater Kansas City area. A North Carolina-based group has bought franchise rights in the area, and is opening restaurants in Lee’s Summit, Missouri, and Shawnee, plus is studying sites in St. Joseph and Warrensburg, Missouri, among other locations, an owner of the group told me.

As for why the group thinks the sandwich chain will make it big in the area, they’ve got a theory about that.

“I would say fresh is the key word there,” said Brandon Moore, the Lawrence-based general manager for the new store.

photo by: Courtesy: Jersey Mike’s

A Jersey Mike’s sub sandwich is pictured in this promotional photo.

Moore said Jersey Mike’s is different from a lot of sandwich shops because it slices all of its meats and cheeses at the time an order is placed. Vegetables also are sliced each day at the location, and the bread — white, wheat and rosemary parmesan — is baked multiple times per day at the store. And, of course, they recommend dousing it with The Juice.

The restaurant, though, is perhaps most distinctive for its mix of hot and cold sandwiches. While some sub chains feature a toaster, Jersey Mike’s features a flat top grill. It is used to create a selection of Cheese Steak sandwiches. You’ll even see a few of them labeled as Philly Cheese Steaks, even though the restaurant really is from New Jersey and the overall chain continues to be run by a Jersey Shore native who bought the original beachside restaurant at the age of 17, according to the company’s official history.

But folks from Philadelphia paid a lot of the bills in the early going. Founded in Point Pleasant, New Jersey in 1956, the shop was only about an hour away from both Philadelphia and New York. The Jersey Shore beaches made the shop a popular summer eatery for vacation-goers from both cities.

The menu includes some standards from both cities. Moore said the simple but classic Original Italian — provolone, ham, prosciuttini, cappacuolo, salami and pepperoni — is the most popular item on the menu at most stores. But the cold sandwiches also include several versions of roast beef, turkey and even a fresh-made tuna fish sandwich. As for the hot sandwiches, there are the traditional Philly beef cheese steaks, including one with the twist of chipotle mayo, but also a selection of chicken Philly cheese steaks.

Dan Markgraf, an owner and operator of the franchise, said he jumped at the chance to include Lawrence in his territory for Jersey Mike’s. He said the sandwiches have proven popular with college students in other markets, and he believes the west Lawrence location right across the street from Free State High, will prove popular with that market too, in addition to the growing residential area in northwest Lawrence.

“We’re excited to really expand Jersey Mike’s footprint in this region for sure,” he said.

photo by: Chad Lawhorn/Journal-World

Jersey Mike’s is in the process of opening in this vacant space in the Bauer Farm development in west Lawrence, pictured on Sept. 6, 2022.

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