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High 5 Hospitality acquires Jersey Mike’s locations

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High 5 Hospitality recently added five Jersey Mike’s locations, including this one off Route 896 in Newark, to its group. | DBT PHOTO BY JACOB OWENS

STANTON – High 5 Hospitality, which owns a collective of restaurants in Delaware and Maryland, has acquired five franchise locations of Jersey Mike’s Subs shops in the First State.

The restaurant group, which owns eight Buffalo Wild Wing locations across the two states along with a handful of other restaurants, announced the deal Dec. 2. Terms of the acquisitions were not disclosed.

The locations for the fast casual sub shops include Newark, Christiana, Middletown, Dover and Rehoboth Beach. They were owned by franchisee Brad Mouly, who is retaining locations in Millsboro and Salisbury, Md., closer to his home and growth plans, said Bobby Pancake, one of the co-founders of High 5 Hospitality.

“The business model in and of itself is very attractive, and it’s a darn good sub. I’ve eaten a lot of subs over the last six months,” Pancake said when asked what attracted him to the fast casual brand.

In 2012, Pancake set a group goal of owning and operating five different restaurant brands by 2020. Before the pandemic, they owned four, including eight Buffalo Wild Wing locations, an Eggspectation location and two independent brands, Stone Balloon in Newark and Limestone BBQ and Bourbon in Stanton.

Pancake, along with his founding co-owner Steve Wheat, have been looking at sub sandwich concepts since that initial year, investigating possible deals with Delaware-founded Capriotti’s, Cincinnati-based Penn Station, and also Jersey Mike’s.

“I just couldn’t get my mind around it or got distracted with other things … so it’s always been in the back of my mind,” he said. “When this opportunity came about, we jumped on it.”

It was John de Viere, the district manager for Jersey Mike’s and a former High 5 Hospitality manager, who suggested the opportunity, Pancake said. De Viere had been approached to invest as a franchisee but didn’t have the capital to complete a deal, so High 5 backed him to get it done.

“There’s no better feeling than paying it forward and helping someone else get their start. That’s what happened to us back in 2004, and less than 20 years later, we’re able to return that favor to someone else and help them get their start as an owner-operator,” Pancake added.

Now having reached their goal of five brands, Pancake said the restaurant group would look to expand its reach in Delaware and the surrounding areas. But he also didn’t count out the possibility of adding new brands.

“If there’s an opportunity that makes sense, we’ll jump on it,” he said.

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