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BUSINESS PROFILE: Jersey Mike’s Subs, East Coast subs served California style

SAN DIEGO -- Jersey Mike’s Subs Hillcrest owners Brad Remy and Jacque Moutier have had a lifelong love affair with good food. Several years ago, when Remy was coaching a lot of youth football and baseball, he wound up meeting the man who owns the Jersey Mike’s Subs in Solana Beach.

“We had a long conversation about the quality and what it represents. When I went there people were smiling, happy and having a good time,” Remy said. “I felt it was a good business venture. I ran it by Jaque and we decided we wanted to be part of the franchise system.”

Remy and Moutier soon found they were granted what some might see as the most attractive “territory” in all of San Diego: an area that spans from University Town Center to La Jolla and all the way into Coronado. Opening their first store in Hillcrest, they felt, seemed to be the obvious choice.

“Hillcrest just has this aura about it,” Remy said. “A lot of people believe that if you are a good quality restaurant that this is the neighborhood you want to be in.”

As an added bonus Remy already had a longtime friendship with a man who not only has been involved with the community for nearly two decades, but who had extensive food and beverage experience. That man, Steven Kao, was quickly tapped to run the Fifth Avenue storefront.

“I started coming to Hillcrest after college,” Kao said. “There are only, really, five or six true gay communities in the nation. There are some smaller ones in Washington, D.C., and although West Hollywood and South Beach are great, I just fell in love with Southern California.”

Kao, who is originally from New Jersey himself, said the shop more than lives up to the hype.

“Jersey Mike’s absolutely lives up to the East Coast standard. Even if you just look at the meat, you can tell,” he said. “I’ve been in the restaurant business for a long time and have worked in everything from fine dining to five star hotels. I know my food and beverage. I also know what a true Jersey sub looks and tastes like.”

The subs, he believes, more than speak for themselves.

“The bread is flown in from Middletown, N.J.,” he said. “A lot of people say there is a distinct taste when it comes to an East Coast sub and a lot of that has to do with the bread. All of our meats are premium and are also flown in from back East.”

Remy points out that what they serve in Hillcrest is essentially what is being served at the flagship Point Pleasant, N.J. store and at other Jersey Mike’s locations up and down the coast.

“It’s essentially Jersey Shore food in San Diego,” Remy said.

Kao agrees.

“I know what a true Philly cheesesteak is supposed to taste like and it takes a lot to measure up to that standard,” he said. “There are other sandwich places in the city who say they have cheesesteaks but when you look at their grill you see Steak-umm or some other beef round; which is fine, but it’s not what you’re used to if you’ve had good, Philly comfort food.”

But it’s not just the cheesesteaks and Tasty Kakes (yes, they have Tasty Kakes) that bring people through the door. Some are drawn to the Cali Club, which is packed with premium turkey, avocado and bacon. Others prefer to order the traditional Italian sub.

“We have unbelievably good roast beef that we basically cook in the store,” Kao said. “It’s fabulous. We also do a Philly cheesesteak with a spin of California, where we add a little chipotle mayonnaise. If I had to pick a favorite menu item it would be hard, but I think those two are at the top.”

If you haven’t yet stopped by Jersey Mike’s Subs, Remy and Kao invite you to come in and check out what makes them different.

“The food is phenomenal,” Kao said,” but that’s not where it ends. “I have to say one of the biggest reasons I took this position is because I don’t consider Brad and Jaque to be my bosses; I consider them to be my friends. The store isn’t just about making money; it’s also given back extensively to the community. We’ve donated sandwiches to Pride, AIDS Walk, and more than 800 subs to The Center. There’s just something great about being able to serve high quality food while at the same time, supporting a community that supports us.”

Jersey Mike’s Subs is located at 3975 Fifth Ave. in Hillcrest. For more information call 619-255-5555 or click HERE.