Founder and CEO of Jersey Mike’s: How He Got into the Sandwich Business

peter-cancro, jersey-mikes
Peter Cancro, Founder & CEO of Jersey Mike’s

After 39 years in the quick-serve industry, I still find it a privilege to do what I do. This is such a rewarding business for those who are willing to put in the time and the effort. I remember working at Mike’s Subs, the local sub shop on the Jersey Shore, when I was 14 years old. After about four years of working and learning, I decided to take over and purchase the shop when I was 17 years old, my senior year of high school.

Something clicked in my head when the owner put it up for sale; this industry has so much potential, and so many customers were demanding our product in other parts of the country. I knew it would be my long-term path, and it hasn’t slowed down since my first day.

This industry continues to be a source of constant motivation. As a brand, we should be hitting around 1,000 stores sometime next August. To me, it feels like we’re just getting started. Even though we started strong in 1975, there is always new business to develop.

Over the years, there have been so many ups and downs, but my motivation is constant growth and development. I am obsessed with finding new areas to develop and growing the brand because it’s the people that keep me going. The franchisees, owners, operators—they all have the same belief as the core of our mission statement. All of them know they can make a difference.

On the surface, this industry doesn’t seem like it could yield such happiness, but it really does for me. I get to share my life, my business, and my passion for wanting to make a difference with crews, franchisees, and customers all over the world.

There are always challenges, and I’ve seen a fair amount of them since 1975, but this is such a dynamic time for the quick-service industry. There is a challenge out there for owners, operators, and even CEOs. And with almost 40 years in this industry, I could not be more excited for what lies ahead.

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What was your first job?

Mowing lawns and washing cars.

When did you first enter the quick-service industry?

I started working at a local sub shop when I was 14 years old.

What is your favorite product at Jersey Mike’s?

No. 12, the Cancro Special: roast beef, pepperoni, and cheese on wheat.

What is your favorite restaurant or type of food (excluding Jersey Mike’s)?

A local mom-and-pop Italian shop would be my next stop if I couldn’t eat at Jersey Mike’s.

What are some of your interests outside of the business?

My passion is this business. I love it and want to continue to develop it every day. If I can find the time, I enjoy running and playing tennis.

Who are some leaders that inspire you?

There were two local businessmen in my town growing up that I admire to this day: Jack Baker of Baker’s Lobster Shanty and Bob Hoffman of Hoffman’s Ice Cream. These two men were my role models in the food business and always gave unconditionally to their community.

What is the best piece of advice quick-serve executives should hear?

Put other people before yourself. You have to do the work. You have to be the example.

via QSR

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