Originally Published at Lake Oswego Review by Cliff Newell
You’ve heard of the novel “Love Story”? Get ready for “Sub Love Story.”
It is the story of Peter Cancro, a New Jersey lad who wanted to make the greatest submarine sandwich in the world.
He apparently is succeeding. Cancro’s franchise Jersey Mike’s Subs is spreading like wildfire across the U.S., and now it has come to Oregon. The latest sub shop is in Lake Oswego, but that will not be the case for long. The chain is plunging ahead with expansion everywhere, and soon.
At the cutting edge of this sub sandwich revolution is Ray Baluyut, who gave up a lucrative business as the owner of Jack in the Box franchises in Washington to answer Cancro’s siren call for subs. Baluyut has brought Jersey Mike’s to Lake Oswego, and when he is done he will have 70 Jersey Mike’s franchises across the state of Oregon. Baluyut is his own best salesman.
“Lake Oswego (was) the 140th Jersey Mike’s Subs franchise to open in 2013,” said Baluyut. “I started this venture in 2011 and Lake Oswego is where I want my family to be. I selected this territory. Lake Oswego is an unbelievably tightly knit community.”
After being raised on the unfriendly streets of Southern California, Baluyut has found LO to be an incredibly friendly place.
“Even before people tried my sandwich, they said, ‘Welcome to Lake Oswego,’” Baluyut said. “It’s such a great change from California.”
After declaring his love for Lake Oswego, Baluyut put on a clerk’s uniform and started showing why he thinks Jersey Mike’s will offer the best sub sandwich in town. He sliced a long, long bun down the middle and started piling on meat, cheese, lettuce and onions. Then he started shaking on red wine vinegar and extra virgin olive oil to add the final touch of deliciousness.
For the uninitiated it might seem Baluyut goes on shaking too long, but he provided reassurance: “It’s all about the juice.”
Jersey Mike’s Subs started in 1956 in Pleasant Beach, N.J., and it was owned by a guy named Mike. But it’s real history started when 14-year-old Peter Cancro’s dad dropped him off in front of Jersey Mike’s and told young Peter, “Don’t come home until you have a job.” Cancro took the job and began his career. He was a high school hot shot, even earning a college football scholarship offer from the University of North Carolina, but the only thing he really wanted to do was make sub sandwiches. At age 17, even before he graduated from high school, Cancro got a loan and purchased the shop from Mike.
It took a couple decades for the idea to turn one little sub shop into a giant national franchise, but Cancro’s customers convinced him.
Baluyut said, “They kept asking him, ‘Peter, when are you coming to Ohio? When are you coming to Florida?’”
Today, Cancro has 704 Jersey Mike’s shops nationwide and 600 more are in the planning stages.
While Cancro is selling subs by the truckload, he also is giving millions to charity.
“What really makes this company unique is the spirit of giving,” Baluyut said.
The giving has already started in Lake Oswego, with Baluyut set to donate money to the Lake Oswego School Foundation.
Jersey Mike’s Subs is located at 3 Monroe Parkway, Suite E, in the New Seasons Shopping Center in Lake Oswego.
For more information, call 503 594-7335 or go to the website jerseymikes.com.
Ray Baluyut has a lot of sub sandwich ambition. Lake Oswego is only the beginning his plans to expand Jersey Mike's in this region.Photo by VERN UYETAKE