Originally Published at Ventura County Star by Jenni Mintz
Call them what you will.
The Dagwood. The hero. Poor boy. Hoagie. Grinder.
By any name, they taste just as sweet to Dawn Robinson. She’s has always loved submarine sandwiches, but she never thought she’d sell them.
"I thought I’d be something more glamorous than this," said Robinson, who opened Jersey Mike’s Subs on Santa Rosa Road in Camarillo two years ago with her husband, Troy.
But she isn’t complaining — she’s expanding.
The Robinsons signed a 10-year lease for a second location at 144 W. Los Angeles Ave., Suite 103, in the Tuscany Square shopping center in Moorpark.
The shop will open Nov. 19, when customers can get a free sub by bringing in the store’s promotional newspaper flier and donating $1 for Moorpark High School.
There will be about 16 employees at the Moorpark store.
Though making sandwiches and scrubbing floors is nobody’s idea of glamorous, Robinson considers the sandwich business a perfect match.
From an early age, she learned to be picky about the authentic sub sandwich. It started when her New Jersey relatives would visit, bringing a suitcase full of sandwiches from the then Mike’s Subs to share.
Even after six or seven hours in a suitcase, they were delicious, she said.
After Robinson discovered Jersey Mike’s was a franchise, she couldn’t wait to open one of her own.
Peter Cancro, chief executive of Jersey Mike’s, is excited that the Robinsons are expanding to Moorpark.
"I think it’s really good timing for them," said Cancro, who purchased the original store in 1975 for $125,000 when he was 17. "They really get what the company is about."
Jersey Mike’s motto is to give back to the community, something that Robinson has embraced by fundraising for local schools and organizations such as Make-a-Wish, American Cancer Society and Mothers Against Drunk Driving.
"She has been unbelievable since the beginning, getting involved with schools and local charities," Cancro said.
Despite the economic downturn, Jersey Mike’s is not slowing down.
The Manasquan, N.J.-based submarine sandwich chain, which started in 1956 as Mike’s Subs, has more than 361 locations across the U.S., including 10 stores in Ventura County. An additional 500 stores are in development nationwide. Cancro expects the company to double in size within five years.
Sales are up 6 percent from last year at Robinson’s Camarillo store.
"We are still strong," she said. "It’s a little bit of a scary time right now, but I think we’re in a good business."
While people are spending less, they still want quality and quantity, she said.
She’s not worried about promotions like the $5 footlong offers at Subway and Quizno’s.
"Jersey Mike’s is in a league of its own," she said.
Many of her regulars agree.
Denise Scott of Camarillo has dined at Jersey Mike’s almost every day since the store opened, sometimes twice a day.
The clean atmosphere, friendly staff and reasonable prices keep her coming back, ordering her favorite sandwich, the No. 7, turkey and provolone.
"I don’t get tired of it," Scott said.
Neither does Dawn Ott. The Camarillo resident was eating at Jersey Mike’s four or five times a week, but because of the economy has cut back to two or three visits a week.
A sandwich and soda run her $9 or $10, but it’s worth it, she said.
"You pay for what you get," Ott said.
Given the bleak economy, Ott was surprised to hear the owners are expanding to Moorpark.
"I think it’s great," she said. "They’re bringing more jobs into the community. I hope they open more."
Dawn Robinson rings up sandwiches at the Jersey Mike's in Camarillo that she and husband Troy own. Below, Ryan Gerry cleans tables beneath a suitcase Robinson's uncle used to bring subs from the original Mike's Subs in New Jersey when she was a child. \"It might be why I still like the subs day-old,\" she says.\r\n\r\nPhoto by James Glover II
Sandwiches are assembled at the Jersey Mike's on Santa Rosa Road. Owners Dawn and Troy Robinson will open a second sub shop this month in Moorpark.\r\nPhoto by James Glover II
Ryan Gerry, 21, of Camarillo cleans tables at the Jersey Mike's in Camarillo on October 28, 2008. A suitcase displayed on the wall of Jersey Mike's on Santa Rosa Rd. in Camarillo was used by co-owner Dawn Robinson's uncle to bring her subs from the original Mike's Subs in New Jersey when she was a child. \"It might be why I still like the subs day old,\" she said.Photo by James Glover II
Dawn Robinson laughs with customers at the Jersey Mike's on Santa Rosa Rd. in Camarillo on October 28, 2008. Robinson and her husband Troy own the restaurant together.\r\nPhoto by James Glover II