Pros: Fast delivery, very tasty
Cons: I'm not sure it's nutritious, and I'd rather not know, thank you!
What they are: This is a chain of fast-food restaurants. They have almost one thousand locations spread across most States. The chain was started in 1983 by Jimmy John Liautaud, who was nineteen years old at the time.
What’s on the menu: They serve submarine sandwiches and a few sides. The subs come in three sizes -- a standard eight-incher, a “giant club sandwich” size, and the J.J. Gargantuan. Jimmy Johns features the following meat choices: smoked ham, turkey breast, tuna salad (with celery, onions, special sauce), rare roast beef, Genoa salami, capicola, and bacon. The menu also includes provolone cheese and a host of vegetable choices: lettuce, tomato, onion, alfalfa sprouts, cucumber slices, and, for a little extra, avocado spread. The sides include potato chips (plain, skinny chips, barbecue, jalapeno, salt and vinegar), jumbo kosher dill pickle, extra meat, extra cheese, extra avocado spread, and hot peppers.
The various ingredients can be combined into many configurations. Jimmy Johns has names for their standards, with some creativity in the naming. There is a Pepe, a Turkey Tom, a Vito, an Italian Nightclub, a Club Tuna, a Club Lulu, and a Billy Club.
The giant subs are actually no longer than the standards, but are over-stuffed with goodies. There are parallel versions to the standard subs, plus a few have extra ingredients, as in types besides quantities. This of course created the need for more creative names. For the larger subs, there is a choice of breads: the standard French bread baguette, or seven-grain bread.
The bread is a big component of the quality of these subs. Jimmy Johns uses their own recipe for the French bread, which is then fresh-baked on site at each outlet. I believe it is lightly brushed with an herb butter, but that is just my own theory.
Jimmy Johns also has a sub version called a “plain slim,” and those are meat-only versions of the eight-inch subs. There is something they call an “Un-wich,” which is a sub minus the bread, with the innards wrapped in lettuce. Then there is the J.J. Gargantuan, that resembles in concept a loaded pizza, as it has Genoa salami, sliced smoked ham, capicola, roast beef, turkey and provolone, “smothered” with onions, lettuce, tomato, mayo, and Italian dressing.
How to order: There are four basic ways to order. You can walk into a Jimmy Johns outlet, place your order, and they will make your sandwich on the spot. Or, you can call in an order. Or, you can fax in your order. Lastly, you can order through the very easy-to-use website. I typically call in my order, but I did try the ordering-online option once, and a friend went in to order the food once. All three of the methods I have tried worked well, with very attentive staff and great accuracy. The slowest method was ordering in the outlet, but it was still acceptable. Order-by-phone and online ordering, with delivery, were very quick.
How to get the grub: As mentioned above, you can pick up the food at your nearest outlet. However, the delivery cost is so low, and the speed of delivery is so quick, I never bother. How low is the delivery charge? You take the cost of the sandwich, add applicable taxes, and the delivery charge is the difference between that result and the next rounding-up to the nearest quarter. For example, a standard sub is $4.50 and Michigan sales tax is six percent, which would be $0.27, for a total of $4.77. The total including delivery is $5.00. I give a tip, but it is a great deal for $6.00 or $7.00. Jimmy Johns takes pride in how quickly they deliver and, that pride was justified in five of the six times I’ve used delivery; one time, the delivery-person got lost and apologized, but it still was not very long to wait.
Update (2014): They now have higher delivery charges than when I wrote this.
Price: As mentioned above, the standard eight-inch submarine sandwiches are $4.50 and the giant club versions, which are overstuffed variations of the smaller ones, are $5.50. The J.J. Gargantuan costs $7.50, while the plain slims are $3.50. The soda pop is either $1.29 or $1.39, depending upon size. The giant chocolate chip cookies and giant oatmeal raisin cookies are $1.50, while the real potato chips and the jumbo kosher dill pickles are $1.00 each. Etra meat is $1.30, while extra cheese or extra avocado spread is $0.75; hot peppers are free (although you pay the price later).
My experience: My first experience with Jimmy Johns hooked me. Our office had recently moved to a location not within easy walking distance of an eating establishment, and Jimmy Johns delivered a big box of mini-subs (eight-inch subs cut in half) free. I tried a BLT and thought it was okay. I then tried a Turkey Tom (turkey breast, lettuce, tomato, alfalfa sprouts, and mayo, and immediately grabbed another. I have ordered a Turkey Tom six times since then. I love this sandwich! The vegetables are fresh and crispy, the sandwich is the right size for me for lunch, and Jimmy Johns bread is excellent, with a slight herb-butter taste to it.
Soon I plan to try another variety, possibly a Vito Genoa salami, provolone, capicola, onion, lettuce, tomato, and Italian dressing, minus the cheese and onion. Or, it could be a Pepe (applewood smoked ham, provolone cheese, lettuce, tomato, and mayo) minus the cheese, but with alfalfa sprouts.
Update: I had a Hunter's Club today. That's one of the upsized subs. It comes with a quarter-pound of medium rare roast beef, provolone, lettuce, tomato, and mayo. I swapped away the provolone for alfalfa sprouts. It was delicious and very filling, with the inside-the-bun items always over-flowing. The roast beef was lean and tender, and not at all dry. I added salt and vinegar chips, which were made with 100% peanut oil and were no oily at all.
Service: when you talk to these people on the phone, they are always friendly and accommodating. Minor sub-situations (pardon the pun please) do not seem to bother them. The delivery people are courteous and seem genuinely appreciative of a tip. When the person had trouble finding us (I know that Google maps does say our address belongs to the building next door which is where she was), she called and politely requested help.
Quality of food: Is this gourmet food? No. it is very good basic food, with all ingredients being fresh and tasty. And, of course, there is the French bread. They have their own dough recipe, and bake it on-site at each outlet. As I mentioned, I suspect it is brushed with herb butter before baking, giving it a nice subtle extra taste.
Website: The website is simply the chain’s name converted into an Internet address by adding the required “www” and “.com” at the beginning and the end. It includes their menu, their history, their online ordering system, information on catering, franchise information, a way to buy gift cards, and a Jimmy Johns online store to buy hats, hoodies, jackets, boxer shorts, duffle bags, and smaller bags. The website is colorful, easily navigate, and self-explanatory.