Risk-reward for Jimmy John’s founder a case study in fluff

Restaurants are about making money. So is everything involved with food. It’s nice if that food is healthy – however that is defined at the time – and abundant and whatever other marketing spins are out there, but follow the money.

That’s why business publications still exist, to provide puff pieces about titans of commerce who, especially in the U.S., reimagine their histories into storylines.

It’s about the money.

Jimmy-I-decided-to-pull-raw-sprouts-from-my-menus-after-5-outbreaks Liautaud said as part of a National Restaurant Association Show panel in Chicago last week that in 2003 he was unhappy with his potato chip supplier; they didn’t treat him very well, "So I figured out how to make potato chips myself. I designed the bag and everything. And my bags have 2½ times the chips that were in the other chip bags. What’s better is I’m making a lot more money with the Jimmy Chips than I did before."

Great. Maybe you can figure out what to do about sprouts rather than continue to sicken unsuspecting customers.

For the ambulance chasers, the story notes Jimmy John’s Gourmet Sandwiches is a 1,300-plus-unit chain that pulled in $895 million in 2011, according to Technomic.

Liautaud described his relationship with franchisees as one full of "tough love." A corporate team is in each restaurant every 30 days to make sure things are running smoothly.

"It works for us. I call it proactive discipline," he said. "Especially if you’re a new franchisor, it’s important to be in the store to make sure it’s successful."

Success in the world of Jimmy John’s apparently does not include serving safe food.