El Toro beats Laguna Hills in sandwich challenge

Originally Published at The Orange County Register by Erika I. Ritchie

Jersey Mike's gives more than $3,000 to two south OC high schools.

A Lake Forest high school beat a Laguna Hills High school in a sandwich challenge sponsored by Jersey Mike's and got more than $2,000.

The Lake Forest sandwich maker presented El Toro High with a check for $1,675 and a second check for $500 on Friday amidst cheers from El Toro High students. Laguna Hills High will get a check for $567 next week.

The checks are part of a grand opening food challenge Jersey Mike's put on during the grand opening of its new location at El Toro Road and Raymond Way last month.

The schools and their supporters needed only to show up, order a free, freshly made sub and donate $1 toward the challenge. The eatery threw in the $15,000 worth of free food and promised the winner a check for $500 on top of their other earnings.

"The whole idea was to raise money for the schools," said Hector Haget, who owns the Lake Forest franchise and is in charge of developing the South County market. A second store is in Foothill Ranch. Nationwide, the chain has 400 franchises. The first one opened in Point Pleasant , NJ, on the Jersey shore.

"Nothing has changed in the way we make sandwiches," said Haget, adding that giving back to the community is the company's motto.

Making the food donation was a little harder with the current business climate but Haget added that the company has the effort built into its grand opening plan.

"We're all independent businessmen and we're prepared to give back to the community," he said. "We didn't think twice about not doing it. We hope it pays back in dividends of customer loyalty."

Schools can use the money any way the like.

"It's a worthy cause particularly now because of all the teacher cutbacks and programs that are threatened," he said.