Employees Reveal What It's Really Like To Work At Jersey Mike's Subs

When it comes to sandwich chains, Subway or even Panera Bread may spring to mind before Jersey Mike's Subs. However, the sub shop is a tasty alternative to other fast food joints, and it's only growing in popularity. As a go-to stop for made-to-order subs, Jersey Mike's offers an impressive selection of premium meats, cheeses, fresh bread, and flavor-packed sauces. With over 2,500 store locations in the United States alone, the chain continues to expand with new franchises opening worldwide.

Ordering and eating at your local Jersey Mike's franchise is one thing, but what is it like being on the other side of the counter? You may find yourself wondering what goes on behind the scenes to get you your favorite hot or cold sub. Unsurprisingly, employees have many opinions to share about their experiences working there. So, tie your apron and start practicing your sub-wrapping techniques 一 here's what employees have to say about what it's really like to work at Jersey Mike's Subs.

Employees wear many hats

Employees at Jersey Mike's can expect to become experts in multitasking. Reviews online report that working at the popular restaurant chain involves much more than just making sandwiches. For example, one former employee wrote about their experience on Indeed, saying, "I learned more than I thought from a small sub place. I learned to work the cash register, top subs, grill meats and vegetables, slice meats and cheeses, and prepare lettuce, onion, tomatoes, and bread." Workers are also responsible for wrapping the sandwiches, opening and closing the store, washing dishes, and maintaining a clean restaurant. This includes learning how to handle food properly, following cooking instructions, and using tools such as knives, slicers, and grills safely.

Another core part of the job is providing exceptional customer service. While the occasional difficult customer comes through the door, employees generally have good things to say about the patrons. Joining the Jersey Mike's team can serve as a great introduction to working in a restaurant environment, since the wide variety of tasks allows workers to try out different aspects of a job in food service.

They have to memorize the menu

You may be surprised to learn that Jersey Mike's employees memorize the menu. It's an important part of their training, yet some workers admit that it's a difficult task, saying that it takes some time to get everything down. It's not hard to see why it would be so challenging. With about 30 subs on the menu, each featuring different combinations of meat, cheese, sauces, and toppings, anyone would need time to commit all of them to memory. Additionally, customers can have any sub prepared Mike's Way, which adds tomatoes, lettuce, onions, oil, vinegar, and spices to the base.

There are huge benefits to memorizing the menu, however, which is why it's the one piece of advice that former employees consistently have for new hires. Once you learn the menu, you're able to prepare orders much more quickly and truly get into the flow of the task. Being in a fast-paced work environment requires efficiency, quick thinking, and clear communication. This is why learning the menu is key 一 it helps to have one less thing to worry about.

Every shift (usually) comes with a free sub

One of the most commonly asked questions at restaurant chains is whether employees receive free meals. Jersey Mike's fans need not fear, for the sandwich chain tends to deliver on this point. Every location is independently owned and operated, meaning that workers' experiences and store policies may differ. However, the consensus is that a free meal is one perk of working at the sub shop.

According to the sandwich's Subreddit, employees can help themselves to a free sub and fountain drinks every shift and may get additional meal discounts. Some lucky workers even receive free cookies and chips on the job. Other less fortunate employees lament that they only have access to discounted menu prices. No matter how much you might enjoy subs, it's not hard to imagine growing tired of eating one every single day. Still, many Jersey Mike's workers enjoy the option of a free or discounted meal.

Employees actually make all the food

It's easy to be skeptical when eating out 一 almost everyone has had experiences when their meal tastes like the back of a freezer. This may even be the expectation at fast food restaurants. However, Jersey Mike's seeks to set itself apart by guaranteeing fresh, high-quality ingredients. The restaurant promises bread that's baked in-store daily, cheeses and meats sliced and grilled before your eyes, and freshly prepped veggies.

Well, it's one thing when a company says its food is freshly made and another when you actually get your order and see for yourself. Thankfully, Jersey Mike's employees can confirm that the restaurant chain delivers on its promise of freshness. One former shift supervisor wrote on Glassdoor that "Bread has to be started and baked fresh in the morning, all the toppings have to be washed, sliced and prepped, etc." Another former employee summed it up by saying, "I felt really confident in the product I was selling!" Customers can ditch their doubts and rest assured that the sub shop takes its commitment to freshness seriously.

The pay is average, but the tips help

Some might debate whether Jersey Mike's falls under fast food or fast casual, but regardless, neither category is exactly known for paying its workers well. With the chain's high expectations of freshly prepped ingredients and made-to-order meals, you might wonder how much employees make on the job. According to Indeed, as of early 2024, the average pay for a crew member at the sub chain is $14.49 per hour, which is 9% above the national average for similar roles. In comparison, the average pay for a sandwich maker at Subway is $11.87 per hour (via Indeed).

Individual pay can vary based on location and management. A former crew member wrote in a review that while Jersey Mike's is a good first job, it doesn't pay well. That said, they noted tips help offset the low wages. Another employee said that they received a "solid pay rate for the food industry." Not everyone receives tips, but those who do report it as one of the best parts of the job. For example, one staff member claimed that they received on average $100 to $200 in tips every two weeks. Overall, only 45% of the restaurant's employees on Indeed believe they are compensated fairly. While this isn't the worst you'll see on the review site, it's still not great.

Jersey Mike's scores low on work wellbeing

Food service jobs are notorious for being fast-paced and stress-inducing, and Jersey Mike's employees report that working at the sandwich chain is no exception. Unfortunately, Jersey Mike's scores below average on Indeed's work wellbeing survey, clocking in at a mere 68 out of 100. The survey takes into account many different factors, including stress, purpose, inclusion, compensation, and belonging.

Employee reviews on Indeed reflect the company's low score. Quite a few comments mention a stressful work environment with high turnover rates and bad management. One former sales associate described that they were let go for not "not being fast enough" and overall didn't recommend the job. It's not all terrible, however, since Jersey Mike's takes home an "average" in the wellbeing survey's happiness and satisfaction categories. Still, this is nothing to write home about. Potential applicants may want to note that the sandwich chain doesn't score above average in a single category on the survey.

The hours are long

Working long hours is part of the job at Jersey Mike's. While every store is different, the sandwich joint typically opens its doors to customers at 10 a.m. and closes at 9 p.m. You might think this doesn't seem that bad. However, employees usually arrive much earlier than the store opens to set everything up and start food prep. They also have to stay after customers leave to close up shop and clean.

One employee wrote on Reddit that it takes their crew two and a half hours to prep everything and open the restaurant in the mornings. Other workers responded that this was normal, with some arriving at work as early as 6 or 7 a.m. According to another thread, closing takes 30 minutes to an hour, with most employees out the door by 9:30 to 10 p.m. Shift lengths usually vary between four and eight hours, though higher-level employees and general managers reported that they sometimes worked up to 14 hours a day.

Employees mostly prefer working the night shift

The pros and cons of the morning versus night shift are a much-debated topic among Jersey Mike's employees. Early risers might thrive on the morning shift and enjoy the rest of their day once done with work. On the other hand, night owls may prefer a later start, even if it means not finishing until well into the evening.

While everyone is different, the consensus is that workers at the sandwich chain prefer the night shift. Some find that the night shift moves more quickly, thanks to the constant flow of tasks that brings them closer to clocking out. Cleaning up during downtimes can mean going home early.

In comparison, the morning shift can get intense. It's a race against time to prepare the restaurant for opening, and you "need to be a fast worker and very productive" to succeed, as a current employee wrote on Indeed. This is not to mention that working the morning shift involves covering the busy lunch rush, which employees say can quickly turn into a frenzy.

Jersey Mike's employees don't enjoy many benefits

Benefits such as health insurance and paid time off are few and far between for Jersey Mike's workers. They also vary across locations and often depend on employees working on a full-time, salaried basis. Some managers and higher-level employees report receiving bonuses, health and dental insurance, paid time off, sick time, and retirement planning. However, most working at the sandwich chain enjoy nothing of the sort.

One benefit that Jersey Mike's workers consistently mention on review sites such as Indeed and Glassdoor is the job's flexibility. One employee wrote that management is flexible about adjusting the schedule, particularly for staff members also in school. This makes all the difference for students juggling coursework, social lives, and other responsibilities. It's also ideal for those who work multiple jobs and need to coordinate schedules. Another employee said that they basically designed their own work schedule. For many, choosing when they work is certainly a dream come true.

There are opportunities to advance

For some, making sandwiches is a temporary gig. Like other food service joints, Jersey Mike's attracts a lot of teenagers who come and go depending on their class schedules. However, there are opportunities to advance and make a solid career at the chain. Beyond crew member roles, Indeed lists job postings for positions that include shift leader, assistant manager, and various manager-level roles. The consensus is that promotions at the sub shop are possible with a lot of hard work. One employee explained on Reddit that at their restaurant, getting promoted to shift lead required some training and an exam. Others, however, lamented that they never received promised promotions.

Jersey Mike's rapid expansion creates opportunities for current workers to move up the ladder into leadership positions. According to CEO Peter Cancro, 350 new Jersey Mike's locations are expected to open in 2024. While this is potentially great news for many current employees seeking career growth, promotion and hiring practices vary by location and owner.

Engaging with customers can be rewarding

Even with the wide variety of tasks Jersey Mike's employees find themselves engaged in daily, mundaneity and boredom can creep in. To combat this, some recommend talking to customers and becoming friendly with those who stop by regularly. "It honestly helps when you're having a bad day then that cool customer you know stops by and you talk things out," wrote an employee on Reddit.

Jersey Mike's is doing something right 一 the meat and cheese-loaded subs have many loyal fans coming back again and again. This is great for the employees, too. Interacting with the regulars is one of the best parts of the job, as workers overwhelmingly agree on Indeed. Some even build lasting relationships with customers, hearkening back to the chain's humble origins as a local neighborhood sandwich shop. According to one employee's review, the regulars also tip well. This makes getting to know them all the more worth it.

Sometimes customers make the job difficult

Anyone who's ever worked in customer service probably knows that dealing with the public isn't always fun and games. Unlike Starbucks, which is notorious for having rude customers, Jersey Mike's customers are for the most part polite and well-behaved. That being said, many employees have still had their fair share of difficult customer interactions at the popular sandwich chain.

Complicated orders and long lines during the big rushes can mean that customers grow impatient or frustrated. Unfortunately, it seems that they sometimes take it out on the workers. An employee reported having customers yell and swear at them while on the job. According to an assistant manager, "The hardest part about this job would have to be dealing with some difficult customers, but luckily my upper management has taught me very well how to approach these problems." Common de-escalation techniques include actively listening to the customer's complaints and offering solutions that address the problem at hand.

Jersey Mike's Day of Giving isn't for the faint of heart

Many Jersey Mike's employees take pride in the company's commitment to giving back to the community. One initiative is the Day of Giving, held annually on the last Wednesday of March. On this day, all proceeds the chain makes go to local charities.

For employees, this is one of the busiest days of the year. It's an all-hands-on-deck situation, and those who have made it through the event in the past recommend calling in the most reliable staff members for the big rushes. Preparation is everything 一 workers need to have extras of every ingredient ready to go and fresh batches of bread constantly baking. Starting the day early is also a must, with some employees beginning prep work as early as 3 a.m.

While Jersey Mike's Day of Giving is certainly no walk in the park, workers have nothing but good things to say about the initiative. One person even wrote on Glassdoor that they received additional pay for working the event. According to the restaurant's website, the event has successfully raised over $88 million for charity since 2011.

A good team makes all the difference

Overall, the single most significant factor shaping employees' experiences at Jersey Mike's is the team environment. After all, don't people always say that teamwork makes the dream work? "If you are lucky and get good management you will have a great experience," explained an employee on Indeed. Another employee warned, "You either love the job or it will be the most toxic place you've ever worked at," adding that they opted to resign after dealing with bad management at their franchise.

Good team members also make a huge difference. Even though the staff roster changes regularly, the long hours and close quarters mean that many workers form tight bonds with each other. Friendly coworkers can foster a sense of belonging, which can make the hours fly by. One employee likened their team to family, saying, "There is always a friend just around the corner willing to help you out." A supportive team is truly everything when it comes to promoting a positive working environment.