Jimmy John's to double in size


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Customers hoping to sit and enjoy their lunch or dinner at Jimmy John’s will soon have more space to do so.

Jimmy John’s, 130 E. Washington St., is in the process of expanding the restaurant and remodeling. The new shop, doubled in size, will take the space where Domby, a boutique shop, used to be.

“Having bigger space allows more people to come in and enjoy their lunch here,” said Dale Anderson, the Jimmy John’s general manager. “It will free up a lot of congestion here, because right now it’s just one long room.”

Anderson said customers sometimes feel crowded in the shop when the restaurant is busy.

“Especially at night, when you get a huge crowd of people here, people are walking to get their sandwiches,” he said. “People are also with their sandwiches trying to leave. This should free up a lot of that congestion.”

University of Iowa sophomore Domini Genovese said she goes to eat at Jimmy John’s a few times a week but usually takes her meal to go. She said her and her friends have discussed how small the seating area currently is, and they would be more likely to eat there if there were more seats.

“It’s really tight, and it’s really inconvenient,” Genovese said. “There’s not a lot, so it’s very limited to eat there.”

Another Jimmy John’s customer agreed. UI freshman Anna Sweeney said she goes to the restaurant once a week, whether she eats it there or takes it to go.

“It’s just really tight in there, and when you’re sitting in the back it’s very small and enclosed,” she said. “Sometimes, it’s full, and you can’t find a place to sit.”

Since Jimmy John’s started doing business at the downtown location in 2001, it has never undergone a full remodeling. The expansion and remodeling is overdue, Anderson said, and it has been in discussion for a while.

“The process has been going on for a couple of years now,” he said. “The initial plan was to just remodel this store, then the opportunity arose when Domby left to expand next door, and we jumped on that.”

The new side of the restaurant will be done within a month, Anderson said. The way they planned the remodeling will allow the establishment to not close.

“[The new side] will be the prep area, where we make all of our sandwiches,” he said. “So when they get done, we will move all of our stuff over there and transition so we don’t have to close at all. Then we’ll shut this side down, and this side will eventually be a seating area.”

Six to eight weeks after the first part of the transition is complete, the planning assumes the whole project will be finished.

The building Jimmy John’s is located in is part of a trust managed by MidWestOne Bank, said Nick Pfeiffer, a marketing officer at the bank, in an email. The bank encourages growth for any business, he said.

“MidWestOne Bank is very supportive of the growth of all types of business in the downtown area, including retail, dining, nightlife, and professional,” he said. “Downtown Iowa City offers a multitude of those outlets and continues to find ways to support even more.”

The color theme and other details of the new Jimmy John’s are expected to stay similar to the current schemes. Additionally, staff size should stay about the same, except for one extra night staffer to monitor the seating area.

“In about three months, we should see a completely different, big, store,” Anderson said. “It’s past due. I’m just excited to have a clean store.”

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