Jimmy John Liautaud
Founder and Chairman of Jimmy John's Gourmet Sandwich Shops
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Jimmy John Liautaud opened his first Jimmy John’s Gourmet Sandwich Shop in 1983 in Charleston, Illinois, while enrolled as a student at Eastern Illinois University. Since that time, the company has grown to a chain of approximately 288 restaurants operating in more than 25 states and two countries. For the first six months of 2004, the company opened an average of two new restaurants each week, which is on track with the company’s strategic initiative.
Mr. Liautaud’ s entrepreneurial leadership style and unique fiscal philosophy have resulted in a company that has been debt free for five years and produces a 40% annual rate of growth that is funded entirely from company earnings. Such achievements led Success Magazine to name Jimmy John’s as a Franchise Gold 100 Company Award recipient in 1998 and the Chicago Area Entrepreneurial Hall of Fame to induct him into its membership in 2000. In 2003, he was named to Crain’s Chicago Business 40 under 40, and he was named a winner of the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award for Illinois in 2004. In July, Restaurant Business magazine named Jimmy John’s the 10th fastest growing chain in the nation and the leader in the sandwich category.
Jimmy John lives in Champaign with his wife, Leslie, and their three children.