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How a Sub Sandwich Helped a Group of Student Leaders in Rochester

Three months after opening in Rochester Hills, Jersey Mike's Subs has earned a following while giving back.

When about 70 high schoolers from Rochester and Rochester Hills travel to a leadership conference in northern Michigan this spring, they'll have the community's love of New Jersey-style sub sandwiches to thank.

Jersey Mike's Subs, which opened in Rochester Hills in November, recently presented students from Rochester and Stoney Creek high schools with a check for $1,279.29. The money came from a fundraiser at the sub shop; proceeds from subs were set aside to benefit the students.

The money will support about 70 Student Council and National Honor Society students from both schools as they co-host their leadership conference at the Grand Traverse Resort. 

As hosts, the student groups are responsible for helping to fund the event; the students themselves have to pay their own way to get there.

That's why fundraisers like this one are so helpful, the students agreed.

For Bob Middleton and Bill Biga, owners of the Rochester Hills Jersey Mike's, giving back is all part of the business plan. 

"That's really the philosophy all across the chain," said Middleton.

In fact, Middleton said before opening a Jersey Mike's, franchise prospects are interviewed by the restaurant's founders to make sure they embrace the charitable philosophy of the company. 

Since 2010, Jersey Mike’s locations throughout the country have raised more than $5 million for charities in their local communities, according to a press statement from the company.

The business of giving back

Jersey Mike's is not alone in its charitable efforts. Giving back has been a guiding philosophy of several Rochester-area restaurants and other businesses over the past few years.

  • Noodles & Company opened at the Village of Rochester Hills in the fall; since then, it has held several fundraising events, where a percentage of proceeds benefits local groups. (The restaurant recently helped support eighth-grade teacher Brian Dalton's trip to California to compete in the Escape From Alcatraz Triathlon.)
  • O'Connor's Public House in downtown Rochester supports the Rochester Fire Department with summertime "Bike Nights" dedicated to raising money for the department. 
  • store, is getting ready to host "Goodwill Days," where shoppers receive a 20-percent-off coupon for every item they bring into the store to donate to Goodwill. The event starts Wednesday.
  • Each spring, Dairy Queen in Rochester offers up free ice cream cones and encourages donations to a local cause. 

Day of giving

For Jersey Mike's, the giving is in full force during March.

All month long, the sub shop is inviting customers to make a donation to Beaumont Children's Hospital. The "Month of Giving" campaign culminates March 27, when 100 percent of the day's sales will benefit the hospital.

Middleton and Biga say they are encouraged by the response to their fundraising campaigns so far: it's a great word-of-mouth way to spread the news about their subs. (What's Rochester's favorite sub? Watch the video here.)

Middleton and Biga, brothers-in-law, also operate the Jersey Mike's in Shelby Township; they have three more in the works in Oakland County this year: in Troy, Birmingham and Madison Heights.

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