For Jersey Mike’s Manager-Turned-Owner, a Terrific Day
Kyanna Isaacson, left, was awarded a Jersey Mike’s franchise and opened her store yesterday, with her mentor/business partner and former boss Steve Youlios.
Yesterday, Kyanna Isaacson, age 26, opened her first Jersey Mike’s store as a majority owner, a shop she was awarded by the chain’s founder last year, right after she was named manager of the year at the chain’s annual conference. Judging by the smile on her face in the photo, she’s excited.
“There’s really no words that I can explain everything,” said Isaacson when reached the day before her store opening, in Valencia, California. “But I’m so thankful for the opportunity, one, and I couldn’t do it without my partner, Steve. He’s been such a good mentor to me. He hired me when I was 16, and I was the first employee he hired.”
That’s Steve Youlios, pictured with Isaacson, whom she gave a minority interest in her store in a turnabout move—Youlios had done the same for Isaacson in 2012, when she decided to leave her Jersey Mike’s manager job working for him in order to go to culinary school. “That’s when Steve offered me the partnership to leave school. He knew I wasn’t happy,” and she’s been a minority owner since in the stores she’s managing for him.
Isaacson is the first manager of the year to be awarded a franchise by Jersey Mike’s, she said, and it’s part of the brand’s fledgling STAY program. That stands for Sweat, Tears and Years, “where hard-working managers can partner with mentors/franchisees to become owners.”
The purpose of STAY is to provide an opportunity to those who wouldn’t necessarily qualify financially or otherwise to purchase a Jersey Mike’s franchise. There are six more managers with their mentors coming through the program, the first of whom are expected to open locations in 2018. The program “supports and aligns the candidate with a mentor/sponsor…to provide a road map to successful franchise ownership,” the company said.
Peter Cancro, founder of Jersey Mike’s, surprised Isaacson last year when he called her to award her a franchise after she was named manager of the year. “I was in shock, obviously,” after the award, and even more so when Cancro called.
“I had the goal to win manager of the year, and I finally won. That night they didn’t tell me I would be a franchisee. I wanted to have my own store for a while, and that was obviously the end goal. So when Peter Cancro called me up, my five-year plan turned into my one-year plan.”
Why did he award her a franchise? “Honestly,” she says, she’s not completely sure, but she has an idea. “Everyone knows, and on my social media you’ll see, Jersey Mike’s all over. I think it’s important to have someone that’s holding your brand to its colors and its true roots, and I think I do a good job of it.”
From Youlios, she says she’s learned a couple of lessons. “One of the best things I’ve taken from him is to just stay humble and to never get greedy. Always be willing to give and to help others,” she said. “It’s really hard when you’re in the food industry to keep your patience with the staff, and he ingrained in my head to be passionate and empathetic.”
We’re betting Isaacson’s first store won’t be her last, as this young dynamo starts to build a Jersey Mike’s empire of her own.