Originally Published at TribLocal by Michelle Stoffel
Sub shop Jersey Mike’s is the first of three new eateries opening up in the Annex of Arlington, and its debut marks the first of several businesses filling up vacancies at the shopping center.
Jersey Mike’s will open Wednesday. Caribou Coffee and Smashburger, which share the former Lone Star Steakhouse space, will follow suit later this month.
The sub shop serves a bevy of sandwiches on freshly baked bread and meat sliced right before it hits the sandwich.
Franchise owners Jeff Berns and John Griparis equate the shop to an East Coast-style deli, which has its roots in a mom and pop shop called Mike’s Subs that opened in Point Pleasant, N.J.
“It’s really been the same recipe since almost 1956,” Griparis said.
The two brought Jersey Mikes to the Chicagoland area in 2009 with their Vernon Hills store. They now own shops in Schaumburg, Mount Prospect and one in Minnesota.
The economy didn’t worry them, Griparis said, and so far the shops have proven successful. They are actively looking for a spot in Niles for their next location.
For the next few weeks Griparis and Berns will be at the new Arlington Heights locations getting to know the customers.
The opening of the store marks the beginning of a renaissance for the Annex shopping center, which lost some large anchors recently when Sports Authority and JoAnn Fabrics jumped to other shopping centers.
The center was usually full in the early 1990s, but vacancy rates started climbing as the economy started falling, said John C. Melaniphy, III, Arlington Heights’ business and development coordinator.
But Binny’s liquor store, electronics store hhgregg, Party City and Dollar Store are expected to open “before we start seeing snowflakes,” Melaniphy said.
The stores will take up about 85,000-square-feet of space, cutting the center’s vacancy rate down from more than half to about 10 percent.
Many are taking advantage of the depressed rent and location at busy crossroads of Palatine, Arlington Heights and Rand Road, Melaniphy said.
Jersey Mike’s, 115 W. Rand Road, opens at 10 a.m. Wednesday. Smasburger opens Sept. 14 and Caribou Coffee opens Sept. 22.
Jersey Mike's franchise owners Jeff Berns, left, and John Griparis prepare a giant Italian sub Sept. 6.Photo by Michelle Stoffel/Tribune