Jimmy John’s Franchisee Sends Free Meals to VA Hospital Staff
Left to right: Kevin Mulcahy, Michael Mulcahy, Wyatt Batchelor and Leo Nolan of MBN Brands, franchisees of Jimmy John's, Burger King and IHOP.
“We’re very fortunate that we’re able to be open,” said Jimmy John’s franchisee Wyatt Batchelor. “We’re in a unique position to be able to help.”
It’s with that mindset that Batchelor and his partners at MBN Brands, operators of 23 Jimmy John’s shops, decided to launch #WeGotYour6, an effort to provide meals to workers at VA hospitals near their restaurants in the Denver area, along with Salt Lake City and markets in Arkansas and Missouri.
Batchelor, a former U.S. Army Ranger who retired as a captain in 2014 after three combat deployments, said he began hearing about VA hospitals across the country opening their doors to COVID-19 patients, not only veterans, and whose medical teams were working around the clock.
“Jimmy John’s works really well as a box lunch, it’s something the doctors, nurses, the staff can enjoy when maybe they only have a few minutes to eat,” said Batchelor. MBN Brands also operates 11 Burger Kings and two IHOPs, and Batchelor said they’re looking at how they can get those restaurants involved in the effort.
Since launching #WeGotYour6 in early April more than 450 meals have been donated and MBN also started a GoFundMe campaign to raise money to support the effort. More than $13,000 has been donated, and Batchelor noted the Denver Broncos and its coaching staff are supporting the effort.
While Batchelor said his restaurants “experienced a pretty material decline in sales,” there’s been a little bit of a rebound and he plans to continue donating meals, also talking with Jimmy John’s franchisees in other markets about starting similar efforts.
MBN Brands, which Batchelor co-founded with business school friends Kevin Mulcahy, Michael Mulcahy and Leo Nolan, plans next to expand with more Jimmy John’s locations in Texas. “We have a high level of confidence that QSR will come back,” he said of moving forward with a deal to add more stores. He also noted while the COVID-19 health crisis is like nothing they’ve ever dealt with, some operational efficiencies have emerged that will ultimately improve their stores.
“We’re so much better at projecting our staffing needs and what labor levels need to be,” said Batchelor, who can also draw on his experience working in field leadership at Restaurant Brands International, the parent of Burger King, before becoming a franchisee. “If there’s any silver lining to this it’s that we’ll come out of this better operators.”
MBN Brands was “fortunate enough” to secure a loan through the Paycheck Protection Program, which Batchelor said is helping them keep as much of their staff on payroll as possible. They’re also taking advantage of a loan program offered by RBI, a $15,000 loan with no payments for six months.
“It’s six months of free money,” said Batchelor. “Whether or not we need to utilize it, it’s prudent to take the money and hopefully we’ll be able to give it back in six months.”