Jimmy John’s ‘Freaky Fast’ Will Soon Join Arby’s ‘We Have the Meats’ and Other Restaurants of Inspire Brands’ Portfolio


Arby’s parent company Inspire Brands announced last week the acquisition of Jimmy John’s to its list of restaurants that includes Arby’s, Buffalo Wild Wings, Sonic, and Rusty Taco. The acquisition, expected to close in late October 2019, will make Inspire the fourth-largest restaurant company in the United States.

Inspire Brands, backed by private equity firm Roark Capital Group, announced Wednesday, September 25, 2019 that it will acquire Jimmy John’s for an undisclosed amount. Jimmy John’s has more than 2,800 locations, which will comprise about one-quarter of Inspire’s total count of restaurants. Roark Capital first purchased a stake in Jimmy’s John’s in 2016. Inspire Brands has more than $14 billion in annual system sales and more than 11,200 restaurants. There are about 3,400 Arby’s restaurants worldwide.

Jimmy’s John’s reached $2.1 billion in sales in 2018. Arby’s sales were $3.6 billion in 2017.

Roark Capital formed Inspire Brands when it merged Arby’s and Buffalo Wild Wings on February 5, 2018, renaming Arby’s Restaurant Group to Inspire Brands.

The Wendy’s Company sold 12.3% stake ($450 million) in Inspire Brands back to Inspire Brands in August 2018.

Inspire’s acquisition of Sonic was announced September 25, 2018 for $2.3 billion. Roark has also acquired Corner Bakery and Cinnabon.

Jimmy John’s president, James North, will remain at the company, but founder Jimmy John Liautaud will step down as board chairman and become an adviser to Jimmy John’s.

“Jimmy John’s has found the ideal home at Inspire. Inspire’s long-term approach, culture of innovation and commitment to helping brands grow sets it apart from the rest.”

— Jimmy John Liautaud

Jimmy John Liautaud was born in Arlington Heights, Illinois on January 12, 1964. Liautaud’s father, James P. Liautaud, became a successful entrepreneur after two bankruptcies. Jame P. Liautaud launched successful businesses, including American Antenna Company (for CB radios) and K40 Electronics (radar detectors for police speed traps). He moved his family moved to Cary, Illinois and enrolled Jimmy John Liautaud into Elgin Academy, where Jimmy John says he was a rebellious kid, and was taught to believe in himself by the school’s “dean of discipline” Jim Lyons.

Jimmy John Liautaud didn’t finish college. At first he set out to build a hot stand business, inspired by Portillo’s; but he realized he didn’t have enough money to build a hot dog business. He decided on a sandwich shop instead. The first Jimmy John’s restaurant was opened in Charleston, Illinois on January 13, 1983 (the day after his birthday) with the help of a $25,000 investment from his father. By 1994, there were 10 Jimmy John’s sandwich shops, and Jimmy made his first $1 million. He also sold his first franchise. By 2002, the company had 160 stores, but 70 were failing. Jimmy John Liautaud put a stop to franchising for one year, while 63 of the 70 stores were turned around by his extra attention to the failing stores. In 2007, the 500th store was opened, and in 2010, the 2,000th store opened.

In 2016, Jimmy sold a majority stake of Jimmy John’s to Roark Capital, but kept 35% share and remained Chairman. He will Chairman of Jimmy John’s until his expected departure in October 2019, when the deal with Roark Capital’s Inspire Brands is expected to close.

Jimmy John’s restaurants face increasing competition from Firehouse Subs, Jersey Mike’s Subs,Potbelly, and Subway, which is the largest U.S. restaurant chain by number of stores with about 42,000 stores worldwide. Also, delivery services, such as GrubHub and UberEats, have reduced some of the unique delivery charm of Jimmy John’s, which continues the fight by touting its in-house “freaky fast” delivery.

There are two Jimmy John’s restaurants in Arlington Heights — one in downtown Arlington Heights at 19 South Dunton Avenue and one on Dundee Road near Kennicott Avenue at 1017 West Dundee Road.

The Prospect Heights Jimmy John’s in the Prospect Crossing shopping center is directly across the street from John Hersey High School in Arlington Heights.

The Rolling Meadows Jimmy John’s is close to Arlington Heights near the intersection of Golf Road and Algonquin Road at 1317 Golf Road.

There is one Arby’s in Arlington Heights at 100 West Rand Road just west of Arlington Heights Road, and there is an Arby’s at 1331 Golf Road in Rolling Meadows, just west of the Rolling Meadows Jimmy John’s.



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