Recently I had the opportunity to visit an awesome locally owned sub franchise group that many of you may be familiar with, Larry’s Giant Subs. Prior to doing the interview with the company’s CEO, Larry Raikes, I had visited many of their locations and personally experienced consistent quality and taste in their subs. I wanted to learn more about this company’s history and what their story was. I met with Larry and his brother, Mitchell Raikes who acts as the company’s vice president, for the interview. I learned that Larry’s Giant Subs had got it’s start back in 1982 when Larry’s parents moved from Buffalo, New York to West Palm Beach and the Raikes brothers tagged along to the sunshine state. At first Larry started working as a bartender in Jacksonville, he would get off of work and try to find a place to eat and there would not be anything open for healthy eating. This spawned the idea to go into business for himself by opening up a sub shop similar to those Larry had frequented in Buffalo. Larry attempted to recruit his brother Mitchell to be his business partner, but at the time Mitchell was working at Florida Machine and Foundry in downtown Jacksonville. When the steel plant started experiencing layoffs Mitchell decided it was time to take his brother up on the offer.
Fast forwarded a few decades and now Larry’s Giant Subs sits sixty-nine locations strong, consisting of sixty franchise locations and nine corporate locations throughout Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, and Texas. The company employs 125 employees in it’s corporate locations. The state of Florida has the majority of these shops topping the number at fifty locations, with their corporate offices located just above their restaurant on Southside Blvd in Jacksonville. In 2010 Larry and Mitchell acquired Raikes Farms which is the supplier of all ingredients for their sub shops and also supplies several clients such as the Cinotti’s Bakery, The French Pantry, and Metro Diner to name a few. All in all Raikes Farms sells about 6,000,000 pounds of product a year some of which goes into producing the 18,000,000 subs the company sells each year.
I wanted to find out what the most popular sub was that Larry’s Giant Subs sold on a regular basis, and Larry told me that it was the “Ultimate” sub which is made with all natural USDA choice roast beef, roasted turkey breast & premium ham. His second best seller is the “Italian BIG One”. Most of the locations within the company also offers it’s patrons beer and wine, which also incorporates some of the local craft beers found in Jacksonville. Each year the company participates in the Shamrock Parade on Saint Patrick’s Day in Riverside’s Five Points district. The company also supports several great causes and non-profits on the First Coast which include Childrens Miracle Network, various golf tournaments that raise money for charities, Muscular Dystrophy Association, and Zombiefest held by the Easy Peasy Fitness Foundation in October.
On Mondays, Wednesdays and Sundays Larry’s Giant Subs offers a free kids meal with the purchase of a large sub and drink. Military, police, and fire fighters enjoy a 20% discount on their meal. Larry’s Giant Subs is also taking steps towards a green initiative providing customers who drive electric cars an area to recharge their vehicles for free at their corporate office location on Southside Blvd. Larry’s company was also one of the first in the region to start using and selling biodegradable water bottles. On top of the green initiative Larry’s Giant Subs has a strong focus on promoting healthy eating and diet. They have sponsored several local professional athletes as well as local Mr. Olympia, Dexter “The Blade” Jackson. Their products consist of all natural deli meats and cheeses which have no added growth hormones, nitrate free, antibiotic-free, casein free and gluten free.
Larry’s Giant Subs plans to expand it’s corporately held locations with another four shops in the areas of Nocatee, World Golf Village, State Road 16, and Ponte Vedra. Larry’s Giant Subs has also partnered with Doorstep Delivery service so that customers can have their food brought to them. If you have a large party that needs catering Larry’s Giant Subs can also provide this service as well. To find out more information visit them online at www.larryssubs.com.
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Written and published for BUZZ Magazine, May 2016.