Two national fast-food chain restaurants — Jimmy John’s and Zaxby’s — will be making their debuts in Henderson in the months or years to come.
The Jimmy John’s along U.S. 41-North should be open by early next spring, but it will be late 2024 or 2025 before Zaxby’s opens here at a location to be determined, the respective franchise owners said. Here are details:
Jimmy John’s sells sub-style sandwiches and wraps along with sides such as potato salad, pasta salad, Jimmy-brand chips and jumbo kosher dill Jimmy Pickles. Its menu also includes a bread-free, lettuce-wrap version of its subs that it calls an Unwich.
“Everything is sliced fresh daily. Not the day before, not the night before,” said franchisee Ken Butler of Newburgh, who already owns 16 Jimmy John’s stores in four states.
“That’s what people want,” he said. “Fresh and fast.” Crews come in at 5:30 or 6 a.m. to start baking bread for the day, then cut up lettuce, tomatoes and other vegetables while the bread bakes.
Site work for the 3,300-square-foot building at the corner of U.S. 41-North and Rettig Road that will house Jimmy John’s has begun, and crews are pouring footers this week. The site is next to Sugar Creek Inn.
“It’s been a long time coming,” Butler said. “I’m extremely excited for this one. It’s not been an easy task to pull off.
“I’ve been trying to get in Henderson for four or five years,” said Butler, who opened his first Jimmy John’s in Carbondale, Illinois, in 1998.
He bought property at Third and Green streets for a Jimmy John’s here, but “couldn’t get the parking situation worked out.”
Then Butler saw the property at 41-North and Rettig Road come up for sale.
“It’s the perfect spot,” he said, explaining that Rettig Road will create a convenient route for delivering meals to the Downtown Henderson area and Deaconess Henderson Hospital.
The Jimmy John’s here will feature both a drive-thru and some inside seating. The store will also have its own delivery drivers and customers can place orders through a Jimmy John’s app, or use Door Dash or Uber Eats if they prefer.
Jimmy John’s will occupy about half of the building. The other half will be leased to a tenant that’s still to be determined.
The company draws its name from founder Jimmy John Liautaud, who opened a sandwich shop in Charleston, Illinois in 1983, eventually expanding to a small chain of shops, then selling franchises. As of early November, there were 2,655 Jimmy John’s stores in 45 states, according to the ScrapeHero data service.
The company is now owned by Inspire Brands, the owner and franchisor of Arby’s, Dunkin’, Baskin-Robbins, Buffalo Wild Wings, Sonic and Jimmy John’s.
You can get a preview of Jimmy John’s at any of Butler’s five locations in the Evansville-Newburgh area or one in Owensboro.
Zaxby’s is a Georgia-based company known for chicken fingers, chicken sandwiches, wings, sauces and salads.
The Henderson store will be owned by new Zaxby’s franchise owner Manish Malhorta, a veteran of the hospitality and franchise industries. In addition to Henderson, Malhorta will be opening Zaxby’s in Vincennes, Indiana, and Madisonville. A news release stated that he plans to break ground for those locations in November 2024.
Malhorta said in an email message to The Hendersonian that “we are very excited to open Zaxby’s in these three towns. We are currently looking for sites in all three locations and will try to open at least one store in late 2024.”
Asked whether he was considering U.S. 41-North for the Henderson store, he said, “41-N will be an ideal location for Henderson but we will keep our options open. With all the new development happening around the town I am very optimistic that we will find a great site in Henderson even if it’s not on 41.”
Originally from India, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in hotel management, Malhotra furthered his studies in Australia before embarking on a successful career with Marriott International. His journey led him to the United States, where he continued to build his expertise in hospitality with Marriott in Hilton Head and later in Evansville, according to a news release.
He later began working for Arby’s, climbing the ranks from store manager to area supervisor and eventually director. He left Arby’s corporate to become an Arby’s franchise owner in 2015 and has since owned and operated multiple franchises.
Founded in 1990 and headquartered in Athens, Georgia, Zaxby’s has grown to more than 900 locations in 17 states — including three in Evansville, Newburgh and Owensboro — and plans to open hundreds more restaurants across the United States in the next five years.