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Three cheers for heroes, hoagies and birthdays

Posted: March 2, 2011 1:55 a.m.
Updated: March 2, 2011 1:55 a.m.

Jersey Mike’s employee Kyanna Isaacson, 19, makes a sandwich for Steven Manfro, 18, of Valencia, during the shop’s third anniversary celebration on Saturday in Saugus. The store is one of 50 locations in California for the East Coast-based sandwich shop.

 

Jersey Mike’s Subs in Saugus celebrated its third anniversary Sunday by handing out free sandwiches and goodie bags to children. All visitors received a free home-baked cookie. The franchise owner opened a second food outlet in 2010.

“It was so much fun and very well-attended,” owner Stephen Youlios said. Noting the irony, Youlios laughed when the comparison was made of him rattling off opening dates like one does the birthdates of offspring. The Saugus food store opened Feb. 27, 2008. Stevenson Ranch debuted March 3, 2010.

Ownership evolved
Jersey Mike’s Subs began in 1956 as a small Jersey Shore sub shop in Point Pleasant Beach, N. J.
Since then, the company has grown to more than 450 stores nationally. There are 50 stores in Southern California, including five in the Santa Clarita Valley.

With a sales background in radio broadcasting, Youlios worked with CBS radio for a very long time.

He last worked with KFWB 980 news talk station in Los Angeles before leaving the industry to jump into the entrepreneurial world.

Stopping by frequently when his high school-aged daughter worked at her very first job — Jersey Mike’s Subs in Valencia — Youlios gradually got to know the owner.

His interest in joining the sandwich chain evolved over time, aided by the casual relationship he had built with the Valencia sub-shop owner.

A Copper Hill-area resident, Youlios finally left the long commutes with thousands of other motorists behind when he bought his first sandwich shop.

“I met the owner of the Jersey Mike’s Subs company,” Youlios said. “The company was an amazingly supportive, professional company. And opening my own store gave me a way to get involved in the local community.”

Youlios said now is one of the best times in his life because he has more time to spend with family and interact with people involved in the local community.

“I’d never had that experience before,” Youlios said. “It’s so different, so nice.”

Local community
Youlios emphasizes hiring young people from the Santa Clarita Valley at his Jersey Mike’s Subs shops.

In particular, he has hired primarily from Saugus High School, near where his Saugus store is located, and College of the Canyons for his Stevenson Ranch store.

“One couple has been with me since we opened in Saugus three years ago,” Youlios said. “And one young woman from Arroyo Seco and Saugus High School will now be going on to culinary school.”

Also active in the community with the Santa Clarita Valley Chamber of Commerce, Youlios was awarded Rookie of the Year by the chamber in January of this year.

Although a relatively new member, Youlios was credited with devoting more time in his short term of membership than many rookies had in a year.

“I really admire and respect so many people that have been giving so much of their time,” Youlios said. “What impressed me the most was seeing their dedication and concern that we have a good community.”

Celebration
With a long, hard recession as the backdrop to his business, some months were a little rough during the past three years, Youlios said.

But by and large the sandwich shop survived and made it through the economic storm. The owner said he saw people pulling together even in the tough times and so he wanted to throw the anniversary party as a means of thanking the customers for keeping his sandwich shop alive.

“A lot of kids came in for free sandwiches for kids and goodie bags,” Youlios said. “It was like a kids’ birthday party. I think the parents enjoyed it too.”

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