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One of America's biggest sandwich chains plans Canadian expansion

A major player in the quick-serve sub sandwich scene south of the border is coming to Canada
U.S. sub sandwich fast-food chain Jimmy John's will soon enter the Canadian market, after signing a franchisor agreement with Foodtastic in January 2024.

A major player in the quick-serve sub sandwich scene south of the border has revealed ambitious global expansion plans, including getting things going to enter the Canadian market.

Known for its extensive menu of subs and wraps, Jimmy John's announced Wednesday (Jan. 17) a new international franchise agreement in place between its parent company, Inspire Brands, and Foodtastic in Canada.

Additionally, Inspired established a similar agreement with a Latin American franchisor for its growth in that global market.

“For 40 years, Jimmy John’s has taken a straightforward approach to making ridiculously good, quality sandwiches and it’s now time to share them with the world,” said Michael Haley, President & Managing Director, International for Inspire Brands in a press release. “In a global restaurant environment where simplicity is paramount, we’re confident this brand is primed for extensive international growth.”

Inspired, which also owns and operates big U.S. fast-food companies like Dunkin, Buffalo Wild Wings, and Sonic Drive-In (and the American franchises of Baskin-Robbins and Arby's) says they chose "two strong operators who both possess significant quick service restaurant experience and have established extensive footprints throughout Canada and Latin America."

For its part, Foodtastic is the franchisor for numerous chains with deep ties to Quebec, like La Belle et La Boeuf, Rotisseries Benny, and L'Gros Luxe. One of its brands, the plant-based fast-casual Montreal chain Copper Branch, opened its first Vancouver location in March 2020. Copper Branch shuttered its sole Vancouver outpost in mid-2022. 

Perhaps most familiar to Vancouverites in the Foodtastic portfolio is the locally-born Milestones, which the franchisor purchased in 2021 from Recipe Unlimited, with an intent to focus on growth elsewhere in Canada, particularly in the suburbs. 

Jimmy John's: What to know about the quick-serve sandwich chain

Jimmy John's is headquartered in the U.S. Midwest, in Champaign, Illinois, and began in 1983. Inspired Brands bought the successful multi-unit franchise from founder Jimmy John Liautaud in 2019. 

The chain is known for sandwiches served on three bread options: French-style, sliced wheat, or tortilla-style wraps. They also do lettuce-wrapped sandwiches they call an "Unwich." The business touts that the bread is baked fresh on-site daily, and can be toasted.

Toppings are traditional meats, cheese, and veggie options in a variety of combinations and sizes; on the menu, the "original" options are one protein, whereas a "gargantuan" option is five proteins. 

The sandwiches can be ordered at the restaurants, for pick-up, and delivery, or in the drive-thru where available. The chain offers mobile in-app ordering and a loyalty rewards program.

When and where will Jimmy John's open in Vancouver?

With just the initial franchisor agreement in place to bring Jimmy John's to Canada, there is no information yet about which markets Foodtastic intends to focus on, or where the first locations might be. 

Metro Vancouverites looking for the closest Jimmy John's location to the region will find a franchise in Bellingham, Washington, at 4265 Meridian St.

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