For nearly as long as they have known each other, Elyria Catholic graduates John Lescher and Sean Getty have wanted to open a business together.
The friends, who went to grade school together at St. Mary’s in Elyria and college at The Ohio State University, have realized that dream and opened Jersey Mike’s Subs in Westgate Shopping Center, Fairview Park.
“We went to the same grade school, high school, college and spoke about opening businesses together. A few years ago, we were out to dinner with our spouses and started seriously talking about opening a business or franchise,” Lescher said.
Lescher, who was former business unit manager at Invacare, said the two started researching different types of businesses but that Jersey Mike’s Subs, thanks to another Elyria Catholic graduate, had an inside track.
“We looked at lots of concepts; it wasn’t just food and beverage. We researched other areas like health and fitness,” Lescher said. “When I was at Ohio State, I helped a college friend open his second Jersey Mike’s Sub store in Atlanta.”
That “insider” helped.
“We weren’t being sold a concept — in this case, we had our inside man and got the straight skinny rather than the corporate line,” Getty said.
Jersey Mike’s Subs opened June 5 and features cold subs, hot subs, wraps and salads — offering quick service, not fast food.
“What makes us different is our quality meats, the way our cheese is produced and bread that is baked and sliced fresh every day,” Lescher said. “It’s not just high-quality food, but service, too. We go out of our way to get the best employees.”
“We’re a little more expensive than the other sub shops out there, but we really don’t consider them our competition. We’re competing with Chipotle and Panera Bread,” he said. “There is more of a dining experience involved. It’s not full service, but we spend more time with the customer to make it a fun experience. We get to know our customers and it’s how we build our loyalty.”
Both Lescher and Getty said their biggest challenge was finding the right location.
“The specifications we had to follow limited what was available. There are competitive factors and demographics,” Getty said. “We did not want to settle for a poor location. The real estate search took about year and a half.”
“We looked heavily in Lorain County, where we grew up. We know a lot of people there. In our opinion, this is an “A” location but we want to open multiple locations and we have Lorain County on our hit list,” Lescher said.
Getty, who was a management consultant for 17 years, said despite the risk involved, they made the right decision.
“We’re discovering what it is like to be a business owner. There is a fear factor with the so-called job security, but I’m never going back,” he said.
“There’s no secure job. We’re making our own schedule, we own it, and we have a sense of pride,” Lescher said.