What do the aerospace industry and Jimmy John’s sub sandwiches have in common? Lothar Taylor.
Taylor, who worked for an aerospace company for 30 years, got hooked on a single Jimmy John’s sandwich about 11 years ago. And for a nearly a decade, when he would visit the national franchise, Taylor exclusively ate the Turkey Tom sandwich.
It wasn’t until a year and a half ago that Taylor branched out, but his decision wasn’t sparked by a sudden realization that the menu was more than one sandwich long. His foray into the wild world of J.J.B.L.T.s, Totally Tunas and Big Johns was business research. He wanted to open a Jimmy John’s franchise of his own, but decided to sample all the merchandise first.
Jimmy John’s serves a variety of sandwiches, all of which can be converted to unwiches: sandwiches wrapped in lettuce instead of bread, for those who eschew carbohydrates. All Jimmy John’s sandwiches contain freshly sliced veggies and meats, which are layered on freshly baked wheat or French bread, Taylor said.
“They can’t make a sandwich for a customer on French bread that has been out of the oven for more than four hours,” he said.
The sandwiches were enough to persuade Taylor to join Jimmy John’s — he will open a shop in a 1,600-square-foot space at 1204 Railroad Ave., Suite 102. Taylor is shooting for a September opening.
Taylor chose the downtown location because it’s a good balance of businesses and foot traffic, he said.
“Railroad Avenue is about as central as you can get,” Taylor said. “Downtown offers the best kind of market opportunity.”
Although Taylor has a home in Seattle, he said Bellingham was a better location for the sandwich shop because the Seattle area is already home to most of the 20 Jimmy John’s throughout the state, and because the closest Jimmy John’s to Bellingham is in Everett. Plus, Bellingham has a familiar feel to him, he said.
Before Taylor can open, though, he has to finish converting what was once an office and retail space occupied by the Knob Shop, into a restaurant.
“We are basically taking out the previous accoutrements and coverting it into a food service establishment,” Taylor said.
One finished, Taylor’s shop will have seating for about 45 customers with a combination of tall, round tables, booths, standard tables and counter space.
The space will also have the standard look and feel of the more than 1,200 Jimmy John’s nationwide, Taylor said. The shop will be primarily black, red and white, tiles will adorn the walls and floor, the ceiling will be open with exposed rafters, and rock music will play in the background.
“The restaurant caters to kind of an active, energetic restaurant experience,” Taylor said.