Who Exactly is Jimmy John, Anyway?

Yes, there’s a real Jimmy John

Jimmy John Liautaud founded Jimmy John's at age 19.

Have you ever been in line at your local Jimmy John’s, fantasizing about that Italian Night Club sandwich that’s heading for your belly, when you stop and wonder who, exactly, is Jimmy John? Well wonder no more. Because he’s a real person, and his story is actually pretty cool.

Jimmy John’s was founded in 1983 by 19-year-old Jimmy John Liautaud. After graduating second-to-last in his high school class, he was given the choice by his father to either join the military or start a business. He accepted a $25,000 loan from his dad and opened a little sandwich shop in a converted garage in Charleston, Illinois. With a rent of $200 per month, he could only afford a refrigerator, a chest freezer, an oven, and a meat slicer (sodas were sold with no ice because he couldn’t afford an ice machine).

The bootstrapping didn’t last for very long, however, largely thanks to Eastern Illinois University’s close proximity, and the decision to start offering delivery service. Business boomed, and in 1985 Jimmy John bought out his father’s interest in the business. He opened a handful of new stores, developed a prototype, and in 1993 the first franchise opened in Eau Claire, Wisconsin. The one-hundredth store opened in 2001, and just nine years after that, the thousandth opened. Today, they’re opening about 200 locations per year, and are currently in every state except for Maine, Alaska, and Hawaii.


Now you know!