Jersey Mike’s, Café Rio coming to Power and McKellips
November 8, 2017
By Christina Fuoco-Karasinski
Jersey Mike’s and Café Rio are headed to the busy intersection of Power and McKellips roads, toward the end of this year.
The two eateries, which were built in Target’s parking lot, give residents additional dining experiences. Also on the corner are Thai Patio, Chili’s, Wendy’s and Lucky Lou’s, among others.
Café Rio is looking to build out the Phoenix market, according to the restaurant’s chief concept officer Andy Hooper.
“For the last few years, it’s been an excellent market for us,” said Hooper, who gave November 8 as a tentative opening date. “There’s a strong retail intersection there at Power and McKellips. The shopping center is anchored by Target.”
The distance to Mesa Community College-Red Mountain was also attractive to the fast-casual restaurant, as was the city’s growth.
“Mesa has seen incredible economic growth the last few years,” he said. “Housing prices continue to go up. It’s a family-oriented community. The median age is 35 or 36. They’re educated, with strong income levels. It’s a great fit for the core customers of Café Rio.”
Hooper added Café Rio only has 106 U.S. stores, so it is selective about where it builds restaurants, which are known for using fresh ingredients.
“Everything is made from scratch within the four walls of the restaurant,” Hooper said. “We have no commissary, no central kitchen. Everything you eat in our restaurant is made from scratch—no freezers and no microwaves. Even the tortillas are made from scratch.
“The freshness of the food and the fact it’s made from scratch are the most distinct things that people notice. Our dishes are highly customizable. We believe in inviting people into our kitchen. It adds to the feeling that they’re part of the show and making that meal special.”
Café Rio will hire between 30 and 50 employees to serve families coming in for lunch and dinner. To-go orders are popular as well, Hooper said. Orders can be placed online or through a mobile app. Catering is available as well.
First-time franchisee Joshua Barton knows Jersey Mike’s inside and out. He has painted more than 40 stores throughout Southern California, and now he’s opening a restaurant near his parents, who live in the Valley.
“I’ve watched the brand grow and develop in Southern California,” he said. “I love Arizona as a whole and I love the East Valley. I feel like it’s such a growing brand, but there isn’t enough of them around, to be honest.”
Barton said he chose to invest in Jersey Mike’s because its values align with his: If you’re going to be good, be good always. If you’re going to make a sandwich, make the best sandwich.
“It’s a standard of excellence that I can carry into any part of my life,” he said. “If you’re going to do something, do it right.”
With those beliefs in mind, Jersey Mike’s is firm about its franchisees getting involved in the community. Barton wants to become engrained in youth sports leagues in the area. In March, Jersey Mike’s hosts a day of giving, during which all revenue goes to a charity.
“It’s not all the profits,” he’s quick to add. “It’s all revenue. I was raised that way, to be thinking of others and to be charitable. It’s nice to be part of a brand that aligns with my personal values.”
The strong suit is the product, though, he added. Many people come in to Jersey Mike’s stores not knowing the difference between its sandwiches and those of other concepts. Barton fills them in.
“The product is fresh,” said Barton, who is hoping the restaurant will open in December. “The bread is baked fresh every day. The roast beef is cooked in-house. Everything is fresh and sliced right in front of you. Nothing is sitting there too long. If you don’t have a great product, people won’t come back.”