Popular Solana Beach sub shop is all in the family

Originally Published at Del Mar Times by Claire Harlin

Patrick, Dave and Kevin Kenny grew up four miles away from the first-ever Jersey Mike’s Subs, which has served the Jersey Shore community of Point Pleasant since 1956.

“We ate there every day,” said Kevin, a 37-year-old triathlete. He said he used to order the “giant No. 7 with turkey and provolone,” and identical twins Patrick and Dave, 36, used to split the club supreme.

“Sandwiches were big in our life,” Kevin said. “My mom had five boys so it really helped her.”

That sandwich shop was such a big part of the brothers’ lives that they eventually decided in 2010 to open a Jersey Mike’s at 915 Lomas Santa Fe, and the franchise is a near West Coast replica of the original. Both are situated right next to an Einstein Bros Bagels and about a mile from the beach. They are both run like a family-owned “mom and pop,” with customers returning time and time again — some even daily. The brothers not only greet regulars by name upon entering the shop, but they often remember their sandwich of choice.

“We run the place like it’s the original store,” said energetic Kevin, who runs and swims every morning, and stayed standing and moving during a recent morning interview at the shop. “It reminds us so much of where we grew up, and we treat it like a mom and pop deli.”

Another striking similarity to the Point Pleasant location, which serves a high influx of vacationers, is volume. In 2011, the Solana Beach location broke the record as being the busiest Jersey Mike’s location — out of 525 shops. The success has been so great for the Kenny brothers that their brother Chris joined them in San Diego to open a La Jolla franchise last month.

Kevin said the shop’s high numbers are a result of their relationship with the community — they love their customers as much as the many kids’ sports teams and nonprofits they donate food to — and their efficiency.

Kevin said the collaboration between him and his brothers is like that of a well-oiled football team.

“I’m always at the slicer, which is like the quarterback, Pat’s the sprinkler and Dave’s at the register,” said Kevin. The “sprinkler,” he said, is the one who dresses the sandwiches.

On any given day at lunchtime, visitors to the shop can witness the method to their madness and move through the packed line in a matter of a few minutes. Kevin said the brothers build about 900 sandwiches on a busy day, most between noon and 1 p.m.

“We probably do about 200 an hour during the rush,” he said.

The red-headed brothers, who all live together in Del Mar, attribute their cohesiveness and work ethic to their many years of working together. From a young age, they all worked together at their family’s pharmacy. Kevin moved to North County about a decade ago so he could train year-round for the Iron Man triathlon, and the twins sold the pharmacy and joined Kevin in San Diego only a few years ago. The three were thrilled to have their brother, 28-year-old Chris, join them in March — just in time to help open the La Jolla shop.

The brothers work every day of the week, sometimes well over 10 hours a day, and they wouldn’t have it any other way, Kevin said.
“We’ve been working every day together our whole life,” said Kevin. “We are in sync — we don’t have to ask each other anything. We just react.”