Thursday, June 27, 2019

Jimmy John's Going in Agave Maria Space

Posted By on Thu, Jun 27, 2019 at 12:52 PM


Sandwich chain Jimmy John's is going into the old Agave Maria space on Union in Downtown.

Alex Turley of Henry Turley Company, which leases the space, says it was a matter of finding the right business for the spot, locally owned or a chain.

He points to Cafe Samovar, a 15-year tenant in that space. It was a Russian restaurant that closed in early 2006. After that, a number of restaurants have moved in but didn't stick. The latest was Agave Maria, an upscale Mexican restaurant that specialized in tequila.

Agave Maria was opened in 2015 by Jeff Johnson of Local. It closed for several months in 2017-18 and reopened briefly with a more standard menu but the new take didn't take.

"We couldn't find a local tenant that could make it work in that space," says Turley.

The space, at 83 Union, is a prominent one. It's next to Parking Can Be Fun and near the Main Street Mall and the Cotton Exchange Building. 

The point, says Turley and the Downtown Memphis Commission (DMC), is that the business succeeds, whether it be a chain or not. (Plus, he says, Jimmy John's sandwiches are good.)

A statement from the DMC:

"Like most Memphians, the DMC staff and board appreciate the predominance of locally owned retailers and restaurants in our Downtown core. However, we strongly favor activated space over empty storefronts in all cases.

"And we warmly welcome chains into the mix in those cases."

The plan is to open sometime in August, according to Jacob Davis, a representative of the owner of the franchise.

The franchisee, Travis Vannatta, has 15 Jimmy John's, with several in Memphis, North Dakota, and Minnesota.

Davis says the appeal of the Jimmy John's franchise is the company's culture. "Everybody who works for Jimmy John's buys into the brand, not the sandwiches," he says. He says it's the sense of teamwork that sets it apart.

Jimmy John's is known for its "Freaky Fast, Freaky Fresh" approach. "Everything inside our four walls is done with speed," Davis says. He says that customers can get their sandwiches as fast as 30 seconds with delivery in as little as 15 minutes.

Davis suggests the Italian Night Club sandwich. It's salami, capicola, ham, and provolone with onion, lettuce, tomato, mayo, oil & vinegar, and oregano & basil.

"That sandwich is absolutely amazing," he says. "I highly recommend that for first-time customers. It gets them hooked." 

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