Steamboat Springs After a long and hard fight with doubting corporate leaders, franchise owner Brendan Killian has gotten the green light to open a Jimmy John’s sandwich shop in Steamboat Springs.
Killian aims to have the shop open by mid-September. He said he is awaiting permits and then can have the tenant finish completed in three to four weeks.
Jimmy John’s will be in a 1,600-square-foot space formerly occupied by Cartridge World on the south side of Central Park Plaza. The space is next to La Fiesta Grill and Cantina.
“We’re very pleased to welcome them to the center,” said Max Gansline, with THF Realty, which owns Central Park Plaza.
Jimmy John’s was founded in 1983 by Jimmy John Liautaud, who used a $25,000 loan from his dad to open a sandwich shop out of a garage at Eastern Illinois University in Charleston, Ill. Today, the company is based in Champaign, Ill., and has more than 1,500 locations in 42 states.
The subs are made with simple ingredients and fresh-baked bread. Jimmy John’s markets itself as making and delivering sandwiches quickly. Killian said the shop also is able to turn around catering jobs on short notice.
Killian already operates four Jimmy John’s franchises in the Denver area, including a location at the University of Denver. He opened his first shop in April 2008 in Littleton. Killian said the franchises in Colorado have surpassed those in other states, and he is excited about the potential in Steamboat.
“It’s a little scary every time you open one,” Killian said. “You go with your gut, and I think it’s a good location.”
Killian said he moved permanently to Colorado 12 years ago and lived in Steamboat for a couple of years in the early 1990s.
“I love Steamboat,” Killian said. “It is by far my favorite town in the country.”
Killian said it took some work to convince officials in the corporate office that Steamboat was the right location for the franchise that aims to have locations in dense daytime populations in retail areas with strong traffic.
“I fought hard for it,” Killian said. “I aim to prove to them I was right.”
Killian said he turned down the opportunity to open a shop in other mountain communities, including Vail. Mountain community Jimmy John’s currently are located in Dillon and Glenwood Springs, Killian said.
He said he secured the Steamboat franchise rights about 1 1/2 years ago, and he also has the rights to open a shop in Craig.
Killian said his shops employ 30 to 35 people on average, including three salaried managers.
“I am looking for employees and lots of them,” said Killian, adding that interested candidates can call him at 970-213-3308.
Killian thinks his sandwiches will appeal to local and visiting skiers who want to grab something quick to put in a pack. He said the shop will open early to cater to those people and will stay open late.
"We'll deliver as little as one sandwich," Killian said.
Zeb Lenley, who has worked at Killian's Denver-area shops, will be the general manager of the Steamboat location.
At least one local sub shop owner learned a Jimmy John's was opening and has developed a strategy to stay competitive.
"We don't want to be competing with someone that scale and size," said Kris Shea, who opened Cruisers Sub Shop in Wildhorse Marketplace in October 2011. "I think they'll do very well, honestly. Steamboat is a very sandwich craving town, and they have a good one."
Adjustments already have been made at Cruisers. Shea changed the hours to 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. and stopped late-night delivery. In addition to subs, they sell raw salads in a jar and now offer breakfast with offerings that include healthy Acai bowls with fruit and granola.
Shea anticipates the arrival of Jimmy John's in Steamboat could have a greater impact to other businesses such as Subway. The owners of the two Subway shops in Steamboat declined to comment.
To reach Matt Stensland, call 970-871-4247 or email mstensland@SteamboatToday.com