On the southeast side of town is Jersey Mike's, selling that Jersey beach boardwalk specialty, the sub. Not that you can't get a sub in Ann Arbor. The world's fastest-growing fast food franchise--the one that seems to think "sub" took its name from a type of public transportation--specializes in the cheap, lo-cal variety, and Quizno's, Jimmy John's, Potbelly, DiBella's, and our own Sottini's do a slightly better job. But Jersey Mike's is famous for its high-quality rendition: bread with some substance, meat sliced to order, and the "Mike's Way" option (simply called "everything" in Jersey). "Mike's Way" means your server applies lettuce, tomato, and onion and then throws down vinegar and oil like Jackson Pollock putting paint to canvas.
Twenty-five-year-old franchise owner Mike Wagner grew up in Ann Arbor, graduated from Huron High, and learned about Jersey Mike's from the Travel Channel. He was so impressed that he and a partner started three stores in Virginia, where he was going to school, but he says he always intended to come back to Michigan. Here, he has teamed up with Peter Shipman, and together they bought the rights to open about a half-dozen stores in Washtenaw County (future locations undecided). Wagner says the rapidly expanding company eventually wants to put fifty stores in Michigan.
Jersey Mike's also does a Philly cheese steak, with rib eye shipped in from Philly. Wagner says the meat isn't put on the grill until you order the sandwich--a nicety rarely observed in Philly itself.