10 Shady Things About The Jersey Mike's Menu

Way back in 1956 in Point Pleasant, New Jersey, a humble fast casual restaurant then known as Mike's Subs first opened its doors. It offered sub sandwiches, which were a relatively new delicacy in the United States at the time and made up of a long bread roll stuffed with savory fillings like cheese, meat, lettuce, tomatoes, and more. However, any existing mystery or skepticism surrounding the new sandwich concept didn't last long. American diners happily took to the culinary trend. Over time, Mike's Subs became Jersey Mike's — a restaurant chain currently over 2,000 locations strong. From its massive subs to its bread-free bowls, Jersey Mike's serves up toasty cheese slices, chilled chopped veggies, and various meats daily to hungry consumers from coast to coast ... and consumers can't seem to get enough.

"Four weeks ago, a Jersey Mike's opened near me," says a satisfied consumer on Reddit. "These are the best sandwiches you could ever get from a chain restaurant." Though many eaters echo this sentiment regarding the celebrated franchise, there are those who work behind the scenes — that is, the employees themselves — who claim that not every single item on the mouth-watering menu is as perfect as it may seem. From day-old bread to bland chicken to potentially dirty drink nozzles, here are a handful of shady things you should know about some of the popular items on the Jersey Mike's menu.

The hot subs are purportedly made with stale bread

Bread is arguably the overarching ingredient in any form of a submarine sandwich, so it stands that biting down into a good-quality roll can easily make or break the dining experience at a hoagie chain. While Jersey Mike's is generally celebrated for the quality of its wheat, white, gluten-free, or rosemary parmesan selections, good quality doesn't always equate to freshness, at least according to employees. This is because although the freshest bread is used on all cold subs, loaves that are at least a day old are allegedly used on toasted sandwiches.

According to a handful of Jersey Mike's employee admissions across the internet, it's not uncommon to reach for day-old rolls when constructing hot sandwiches. "At my store we only use the bread from the day before for hot subs," said one of these workers on Reddit, "all cold subs use fresh bread." 

This slightly off-putting admission was echoed across the board, with one professed general manager on a separate thread confirming decisively: "We use day old bread for hot subs." "That explains the lack of flavor," responded a consumer, with an obvious air of dissatisfaction. However, if you prefer a good toasted sub with melted cheese, you might still avoid a potentially stale loaf by specifically requesting fresh bread. As employees report, they will honor your wishes ... it's just that you've got to remember to explicitly do so while ordering.

The olive oil may be soybean oil

There's nothing quite like olive oil to give your meal — or, in the case of Jersey Mike's, your bready sandwich — some extra depth and flavor. A quick splash of the stuff on your Original Italian can certainly serve to take each ham-and-provolone-filled bite to the next level. But would your opinion change if we told you that the olive oil used in your favorite sandwich shop was actually a faux mixture?

According to employees, Jersey Mike's "olive oil" doesn't include much olive oil at all. One employee addressed this in a comment to a consumer on Reddit, stating: "You don't want to buy the 'olive oil.' It is 75% soybean oil and 25% olive seed oil." This issue is so well known — and subsequently criticized — among employees that one alleged worker started a dedicated thread on the subject on Reddit titled, "Yo why do we call it olive oil." 

"It was 100% olive oil five years ago," responded one employee. "They switched over to the blend during covid shutdowns." Whether or not the change to a blend was indeed brought on by the pressures of the COVID-19 pandemic or some other reason, one thing seems indisputable: the olive oil on your sandwich is likely to be mostly made of soy products. You will have to decide for yourself if this is an issue, or not.

The salami and cheese sandwich doesn't technically exist at Jersey Mike's

Salami and cheese go together like peanut butter and jelly. Yet the timeless submarine sandwich combination is surprisingly not present on the Jersey Mike's menu — and, no, it's not even on the franchise's secret menu. However, that hasn't stopped customers from ordering it anyway, according to workers. But should you order a salami and cheese, know that you do so at your own risk. This is because — due to the lack of official guidelines on how to construct the sandwich — the size, amount of toppings, and price of this off-menu item can vary greatly from location to location.

"It can be super confusing for all employees and tbh, I don't have a good answer of what it should weigh. [...] It's not part of normal training to go over subs that aren't on the menu," admitted an alleged worker on Reddit. They had responded to a consumer complaining about their dissatisfying salami and cheese from the chain, which they claimed had far too little filling. 

Uncertainty regarding the amount of meat and cheese to place within the made-up sandwich, as well as how to properly price it, abounds among workers. This leads us to wonder whether or not it's worth the risk of ordering it in the first place. You might be satisfied with the final product ... or you might not be. The toss-up is yours to take.  

The chipotle chicken sandwich is sometimes overloaded with peppers

Currently, one of the most celebrated items on the Jersey Mike's menu is surely its Chipotle Chicken Cheese Steak sub. Calling for chicken strips, melted American cheese, spicy mayonnaise, and a handful of caramelized onions and peppers, this hot sandwich is a top pick as far as many consumers and employees are concerned. "Chipotle chicken sub from Jersey mikes," raved a satisfied customer on Reddit. "I will never go to subway or jimmy johns ever again. Hands down this was the best sub I had."

But this epic sandwich with the power to convert customers to the ways of the Jersey Mike's chain is apparently not without its flaws. According to the sandwich assemblers themselves, a few too many peppers from heavy-handed workers can change the taste of the entire dish — and not for the positive. "Yeah I'd definitely recommend the #42 — chipotle chicken," answered an alleged worker on Reddit when a user asked for advice on what to order. "Also maybe ask for light peppers because I know some of my coworkers overdo the peppers." 

If you're looking for more of a balanced flavor between your bread, chicken, and peppers in your next Chipotle Chicken Cheese Steak order, we recommend listening to the above employee and asking for workers to go easy on the acidic peppers.

The gluten-free subs may not be your best bet

Thankfully, a gluten allergy is not an automatic disqualifier when it comes to enjoying a sandwich at Jersey Mike's, which offers gluten-free bread for those with celiac disease and other gluten sensitivities. According to some employees and customers alike, however, there may be better restaurants to get your gluten-free sandwich fix — both for product satisfaction and for safety reasons.

"They cross-contaminate everything," claimed a user on Reddit on r/glutenfree. "As they make the regular (gluten) cold sandwiches all the extra topping that falls off, gets pushed back into the ingredient bin." To be fair, other alleged employees claimed that their locations had separate counters and equipment for assembling gluten-free orders. Yet, going by other accounts, it appears that not all stores exercise this same level of precaution. This is evidenced by one unfortunate post in which a consumer writes that they had an allergic reaction after ordering a gluten-free sandwich at the chain. 

Besides cross-contamination, there is the quality of the buns themselves to consider. The bread is sourced from UDI, which, according to some customers and staff, does not always stand up to ample fillings and sauces. "Just a word of caution though: like most gluten-free breads, it does not hold up well," said a user. "It's for sure a must-eat in [a] don't take out situation otherwise I end up with mush by the time I make the 15min drive home."

The sandwich chicken strips are not very good on their own

Chicken strips are the backbone of many sandwiches at Jersey Mike's. Take the #16 — that would be the hot Mike's Chicken Philly — which simply would not be the same without the sliced chicken at its core. But while this particular poultry sandwich might be an absolute slam dunk for customers thanks to its combination of chicken, melted cheese, peppers, and onions, the unseasoned strips themselves are not very enjoyable, according to employees.

Across a variety of online threads, Jersey Mike's workers admit that the chicken is underwhelming. Unlike the chain's steak strips, which are seasoned during cooking, the chicken ones are left completely bare. "Yeah the chicken unfortunately is kind of bland by itself," admitted one alleged employee on Reddit. "there are some stores that do pepper on the chicken but it's rare from what I've seen." 

However, don't lose hope just yet. Workers do confirm that if a customer specifically requests a sprinkle of salt or pepper is added to their poultry, it can usually be done during the assembly of the sandwich. In fact, many employees do this when constructing their own sandwiches as a rule. "I usually add black pepper to both [steak and chicken] for my personal subs," wrote one employee.

The soda fountain may be dirty

It's no secret that fast food soft drink fountains can harbor some serious reserves of bacteria. A 2023 research study published in Water Supply found that a whopping 41% of fountain drink stations in fast food eateries were found to be hosting potentially dangerous bacteria like listeria, salmonella, and E. coli. As much as we might want to believe that the fountains at our favorite local Jersey Mike's are not included in this infected percentage, there's a chance that they could be.

A rather shocking video posted to Reddit by a seriously upset Jersey Mike's customer features a blackened, dirty nozzle that allegedly came from a Jersey Mike's soda machine. The nozzle, the user claimed, had fallen off into their drink. They had sipped on it all day without noticing the machine component at the bottom of the cup. Though this scenario might make you cringe, the grimy spout featured in the video is unfortunately not the only one out there hinting at a lack of cleanliness. There have been multiple incidents in which select Jersey Mike's locations have been dinged by health inspectors for having dirty soda fountain nozzles. Though this likely isn't the case at every single Jersey Mike's location — and in fact may be an issue at other fast food chains, too — it may be enough to cause doubt before you place an order for a large Coke the next time you eat at the sandwich chain.

The brownies served at Jersey Mike's are nothing special

If the massive sandwich coming to you from behind the counter at Jersey Mike's isn't enough, there's also what often looks like a pretty incredible finisher on the menu to help round out your lunch: a brownie. The chain's chocolate chip brownies may be the perfect dessert option when your palate is craving something sweet. Yet, according to employees, they are nothing special in the wider world of fast food desserts.

"I thought nothing beats the brownie from Chick-Fil-A, but now I am considering picking up JM's brownie instead," admitted a consumer on Reddit. "My question is if JM buys their brownies from another company like Chick-Fil-A sources their cookies and brownies from David's Cookies?" The truth, as a handful of alleged employees hopped on the thread to illuminate, is that the sandwich chain does source its sweet chocolate morsels from the same company as the famous chicken franchise — David's Cookies. 

"I actually recently found out that Chick-Fil-A used the same brownies we do," mentioned an employee in a separate discussion, leading an alleged Qdoba worker to reply that their company used David's, as well. Just how many companies the baked goods supplier has contracted with, we're not sure. However, many argue that the brownies are delicious, even if they aren't unique to Jersey Mike's.

The chain's red wine vinegar is outsourced

To many, there's nothing quite like a splash of red wine vinegar to elevate your sandwich-eating experience. Not only does it add a bit of complexity to the overall taste, but the ingredient can also provide some much-needed acid to balance out the salt and cut through the fat of other ingredients. The Jersey Mike's red wine vinegar blend is a variant that is so enjoyable, that it has prompted many consumers to get to the bottom of its secret in the hopes that they might buy it or recreate the blend at home.

"what kind of red wine vinegar do they use?!" reads the title of one such Reddit thread. The answer provided by one employee was anticlimactic. "It's literally Jersey Mike's brand vinegar that we get from Sysco," they said. The original poster responded with a broken heart emoji — perhaps despondent that, not only is there no public recipe, but that the Sysco blend is not available to regular consumers in a grocery store. This is corroborated by other alleged Jersey Mike's employees, as well, so there remains little doubt in our minds as to where the vinegar comes from. We suppose we must sadly accept that our trips to Jersey Mike's will likely be the only way to get our fix, unless you have a Sysco connection yourself.

The new Nacho and Cool Ranch Philly Bowls aren't that great

When's the last time you can remember Jersey Mike's offering up something new on its menu? We can't quite remember, either. The chain is nothing if not steadfast when it comes to its food, but recently, the company seemingly stepped out on a limb and added a brand new test menu item. The Nacho and Cool Ranch Philly items are takes on increasingly popular bowl-based meals and call for Flamin' Hot Cool Ranch Doritos chips, assorted peppers and veggies, and chicken (or other preferred protein of your choice), served in a container instead of bread. Although it appears it is only being offered up at select test locations, we originally had high expectations for the spicy newcomer.

Sadly, employees of the franchise are suggesting the bowl is a bust. "Thoughts on the new Nacho and Cool Ranch Philly Bowls?" reads the title of a Reddit thread. "We have sold maybe four of them and everyone has said they were eh," wrote the worker who started the thread. Others claimed that both consumers and workers alike were unimpressed. "Let's be honest," said one, "they tried to create something that NOBODY asked for. There are so many opportunities to come up with simple new items, but the corporate geniuses stick Doritos and lettuce side by side and top with flavored mayonnaise?" The next time you stop in, will you be ordering a steaming nacho bowl, or your typical standard sandwich?