Jersey Mike's opens its doors

Jersey Mike’s has finally made its way to Wilton after being temporarily caught up in the town’s planning process earlier this year.

The sub sandwich chain has more than 750 stores nationwide, but Wilton is only the second town in Connecticut to feature the brand.

Jersey Mike’s prides itself on using fresh, made-in-house ingredients and features a menu ranging from cold Italian subs to hot Philly cheese steak sandwiches.

“Two things set us apart: product quality and fun. The meat is sliced right in front of the customer, the bread is baked daily, we use real red wine vinegar and olive oil, and our sandwiches are made with real ripened tomatoes. Overall, the product quality is much better than other places, we think,” said co-owner Brian O’Hagan.

“It’s also a fun place to walk into. It’s a customer experience that is fun. We want the customer to have fun in the store. No one ignores you, there’s a banter between the team member and the customer. We teach that.”

Mr. O’Hagan is co-owner of the shop with Troy Davidson, a graduate from McDonald’s University of restaurant operations.

The shop officially opened its doors with a “parchment cutting event” last Wednesday, May 7, with help from First Selectman Bill Brennan and former New York Yankee John Ellis, a 27-year cancer survivor.

During the first week the shop was open, customers were invited to try a free sub with a minimum $1 donation to one of two charities: the Connecticut Sports Foundation Against Cancer and the BraveCort Pediatric Cancer Foundation. In the first five days the shop raised $1,700 for the charities.

The Connecticut Sports Foundation Against Cancer was founded by Mr. Ellis and his wife, Jane, and has given away millions of dollars to cancer patients and families in need, Mr. O’Hagan said.

Many of Jersey Mike’s employees are area residents, and more than a few are young people who live at Avalon Wilton, the co-owner said last night. Three currently attend Norwalk Community College, and three are students at Wilton High School.

“Almost all of our employees are from the Norwalk and Wilton areas,” Mr. O’Hagan said. “Troy and I like outgoing kids who aren’t afraid to talk to people and have fun.”

In the first five days the shop was open, Jersey Mike’s served more than 1,000 customers with no complaints, the owners said.

“We haven’t had any complaints. We’ve been working in the front of the house mostly, and we do get a lot of people who vacation on the Jersey Shore who say, ‘Thank God you are finally open!’”

The pair plans to open their second shop in Fairfield in just about a month, Mr. O’Hagan said.

They also plan on continuing to assist local charities. In fact, in the coming month they will hand out 500 coupons for a free sandwich with a minimum $1 donation to the Wilton Educational Foundation’s annual 5K race.

Information: Jersey Mikes.com.