The owner of a popular Hays sandwich restaurant franchise is optimistic about his plans to locate a store on 10th Street in Great Bend by the end of January 2024.
“Everything is going fantastic,” noted Matt Berry, owner of Jimmy John’s in Hays Tuesday afternoon. “We are on schedule and we are looking at hopefully being open in the middle to end of January.”
Berry’s restaurant has been providing dine-in, drive-through and no-contact delivery service to the Hays area since 2009. His contact with travelers coming into his store from Great Bend got him thinking that he should open a similar store in the area.
“I would start by saying that I’ve been running the Hays Jimmy John’s for 15 years now, and through that time I’ve had many good customers from Great Bend traveling and stopping at my Hays store,” he said. “Our two towns share many sports activities and with that in mind plus the commute is pretty close travel, that convinced me.”
The closure of the Papa Murphy’s store at 3809 10th in Great Bend gave Berry the opportunity he couldn’t afford to miss, he said.
“The property came up for sale in October 2022,” Berry said. “The location was perfect in my eyes.”
Berry noted that the existing location is similar to his Hays store as a free-standing drive-through property. “Drive through is so vital in this economy for a fast-casual restaurant,” he said. “We do about 40% of our sales out of the drive-through.”
An award-winning idea
The Jimmy John’s sandwich chain headquartered in Champaign, Ill., was founded by Jimmy John Liataud in 1983. According to the backstory, when Liataud graduated from high school, his father gave him the choice to either join the Army or start a business. His father loaned him $25,000 in exchange for a 48% stake in the business. He opened his first store in Charlston, Ill., in 1983 and decided to include delivery of his sandwiches to boost sales due to the store’s poor location.
The restaurant began showing a profit at the end of its first year. The chain grew as fast as its touted delivery times; the 100th store opened in 2001 and doubled in 2002. The 500th store opened in Seattle, Wash., in 2007.
Jimmy John’s continues to grow in size and philanthropy, as franchisees are encouraged to support local organizations in their communities.
Berry has been involved with Jimmy John’s for 18 years, beginning as a freshman in college in Kearney, Neb.
“Both Kearney and Hays are Division II colleges and that’s what made me come to Hays, they are very similar towns,” Berry said.
“It seems like Great Bend has a lot happening on 10th Street right now,” he noted. “There’s a new Wendy’s, a new Starbucks – it seems to be really growing.
“I’m just excited to be coming to Great Bend, I’m looking forward to being there in January,” he said.