New Franchise Comes to Lawrence

Jimmy John's Gourmet Sandwiches first opened in Illinois in 1983. The sandwich shop gained popularity when the surrounding college students took notice of the cheap prices and delivery options. 

Currently there are over 2,000 Jimmy John's locations nationwide. Massachusetts recently became the first and only state in New England to open the franchise, when four shops popped up in Boston. 

Now Jimmy John's is coming to the Merrimack Valley.

Lupoli Companies just signed a five-year lease with the franchise, locating it at their 46-acre Riverwalk Properties campus on Merrimack St. in Lawrence.

"We're really pleased to announce that we are putting in Jimmy John's," Gerry-Lynn Darcy, vice president of real estate at Lupoli Companies said. "This will be the first franchise north of Boston, so this is an exciting opportunity to introduce a new franchise to this area."

Will Guerrette, of Augusta, Maine, is the man behind the Merrimack Valley Jimmy John's. 

Guerrette, who invests in real estate and runs the largest tanning salon chain in New England, Sun Tan City, was looking to take on a new project when a friend told him about Jimmy John's.

After researching the sandwich shop and noticing its "cool niche market," Guerrette became more impressed. 

Although this is his first try at running a restaurant, Guerrette said he feels comfortable opening the chain because he has experience with franchises and knows what to look for.

Jimmy John's offers fresh gourmet sandwiches. Their bread is baked fresh daily and all their meats and vegetables are sliced fresh in house. 

Customers can sit in the sandwich shop and eat, have their food delivered or place their order at the drive-thru. Guerrette said he believes we live in a world where people value their time, so the delivery option is a great aspect.

Darcy agrees. 

"So that fresh food delivered really, I think, will be taken advantage of by residents and tenants," she said. "They are going to deliver something quickly and it is going to be healthy."

Guerrette's goal is to get deliveries at Riverwalk done in about 10 minutes or less.

Megan Shirley, the general manager of Riverwalk Properties' Flow Fitness, is from Illinois and grew up eating Jimmy John's sandwiches. 

"They're amazing, and they always did party platters so it would come so many feet long and you could cut little sandwiches," she explained. "And that was my childhood." 

When it came to finding a location, Guerrette needed a space that would meet Jimmy John's franchising criteria like having a dense daytime population, being in a highly trafficked retail area and having strong visibility. 

He said he looked at some surrounding communities like North Andover, but ultimately chose Lawrence because it was a bigger city and met all the requirements. 

"One of the things they recognized is the great captive audience," Darcy said. "They have so many people they can serve and it's a great benefit for the campus."

With 200 businesses and 4,500 people on the 3.6-million square foot campus, there will be plenty of mouths to feed at Riverwalk Properties alone.  

In the future, Guerrette said he hopes to grow the franchise and own a few locations around the area. But for now, he is aiming for an early fall grand opening. Construction will begin soon, and finish in about six to eight weeks.


Shannon Flynn  •  July 19, 2015  •  The Eagle Tribune