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Holding Out for a Hero? Jimmy John's is Here to Save the Day

The Strongsville Gourmet likes the heft of these sandwiches, but wishes the napkins weren't hidden

Once upon a time, the fast food scene was a simple life. Want a burger? You’d go to McDonalds. Chicken? KFC. A sub sandwich? Mr. Hero.

There really weren't a lot of different places to go for a particular fast food catagory. Our choices were limited but no one complained. It was easy and you knew where to go when you were hungry for something specific.

Times have changed. Now, it’s a competive, packed and heated climate for just about every kind of food out there. Still want that burger? Good luck narrowing that enormous field down.

The choices to find a quality sub sandwich have also skyrocketed. Subway had sort of cornered the market, but there’s a lot of competition in this arena now.

One of the new players here is . The restaurant was started in 1983 and has recently moved up here in the Cleveland area with nearly a dozen stores.

Pulling up to the place, 14993 Pearl Rd., I noticed a big neon sign on the front window that stated “free smells.” That’s clever and it gave me high expectations. When I walked in the door my nose wasn’t greeted by a wave of savory scents. However, I did see a nice, compact and clean eatery.

My attention was drawn to another sign above the counter, this one having three unmissable, large, bold, all-cap words: WE; YOU; GOD. That almost sounds like a biblical pact. Underneath each of these words in a tiny font it adds: deliver sandwiches; eat sandwiches; bless America.

With statements clearly sent, I decided to live up to my part of the bargain and “eat sandwiches.” Who am I to say “no” to subliminal advertising especially, when it comes to eating?

Checking out the menu, my eyes immediately went to the J.J. Gargantuan. This is their heavy hitter when it comes to sandwiches. It’s stuffed with genoa salami, smoked ham, capicola, roast beef, turkey, provolone and topped with onions, mayo, lettuce, tomato and their homemade Italian dressing. I added the jalapeno potato chips and a chocolate chip cookie.

My wife ordered the J.J.B.L.T., a sub with six slices of bacon, lettuce, tomato and mayonnaise. She also orderered the salt & vinegear chips and a chocolate chip cookie. Really, who can say “no” to a chocoloate chip cookie? And, if they can, they’re not from this planet.

When my order was finished and called up, I have to admit that I had no idea where I was to go to actually pick it up. I naturally went to the spacious front part of the counter. I looked at the worker on the other side and he looked at me.  After some uncomfortable silence, I realized I screwed up and asked, “Um, where do I get my food order?”

I was directed to go around the corner and down the hallway. Lo and behold, there was this little opening to pick up your food order. I think they can set this up a little clearer, maybe add a glowing neon sign that says “PICK UP FOOD HERE DUMMY” for goofballs like me who have no sense of direction, even in a tiny place like this!

The one thing I will say, it’s a little bit of a turnoff to have the food pick up area right next to the restroom area. Yech.

When I got back to my table, I couldn’t wait to unroll my J.J. Gargantuan and I wasn’t disappointed. When I picked it up I was surprised at how hefty this sandwich was. Wow, it was heavy. It is packed with meat, cheese and veggies which are all rolled inside a white bun.

Initially, the French bread bun (according to a sign “So French they have to be liberated.”) didn’t impress me as it looked more like a giant hotdog roll. Still, it was more than solid to hold the tasty contents and the bun certainly didn’t distract from the meaty flavors. I will definitely get this bad boy again, only I’ll try it on their seven-grain whole wheat bread.

The other thing I’ll have to try is their J.J. Unwich, which presents any of their sandwiches as a lettuce wrap. Also, if you just like meat and cheese, you can order the various sandwiches as a Plain Slim, which is minus the veggies and sauce.

I really liked my chips. The jalapeno flavoring had a nice kick to it and the pototoes chips delivered serious crunch.

Another surprise was my chocolate chip cookie. It looked like it would be hard and crunchy, not my favorite textures for cookies. I was actually startled when I took a big bite and found it . . . soft and chewy! Aah. Cookie ectasy.

My wife enjoyed her bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwich. The bacon is served cold, by the way.

Oh, and good luck in finding the napkins in this place as they are well hidden. I had to ask. (How embarrassing to have to say “Where’s your napkins?”) FYI: They’re on the right side of the pop machine. Look in the far back past the lids. Trust me, keep looking.

Word on the street is that this place is packed solid at lunch. After enjoying my sandwich, I can believe it. Luckily, they deliver. (Take that, Subway.) I would take advantage of that to avoid the crowds. You can order online at www.jimmyjohns.com. There is a minimum requirement and added charge for this service.

They also have the Jimmy to Go catering service that offers box lunches and platters for parties and meetings. Again, there’s an additional charge for delivery. Go to their website for more information.

All in all, I really enjoyed my visit to Jimmy John's. I don’t know if I’d call their sandwiches “gourmet” as they do in their signage, which I feel is more of a humorous boast. I do feel their strength is actually in the simplicity of their sandwiches. They’re solid, basic subs and there’s nothing wrong with that. Most importantly, they taste good.

And, now that I know the layout of the place I won’t be such a fumbling goof the next time I go.

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