Jersey Mike’s founder makes $10M pledge to HMH

Cancro says he lives by guiding principle: ‘Support the community that supports you’

As his Jersey Mike’s sub shop moved from a single franchise to a national powerhouse, Peter Cancro said he never forget where he came from — and never missed an opportunity to give back.

That was evident this week, when Cancro and his wife, Tatiana Cancro, donated $10 million to the Hackensack Meridian Health Foundation.

“Philanthropy has been a part of my life and a guiding principle of Jersey Mike’s success,” Cancro said. “To this day, I emphasize the importance of giving to my team: Support the community that supports you.

“Hackensack Meridian Health has been a true pillar for our community, and our entire state, throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. It was important for Tatiana and me to give back to those who continue to do so much to provide constant care through such unprecedented and challenging times.”

Cancro, the founder and CEO of Jersey Mike’s Franchise Systems, is a Jersey guy.

A graduate of Point Pleasant Beach High School, he began his business career in 1971 when he was employed at Mike’s Subs. Shortly thereafter, at age 17, he decided to forego a potential college football career and purchased Mike’s Subs.

In 1987, Cancro changed the name of the original Mike’s to “Jersey Mike’s” and began his national expansion.

While Cancro’s entrepreneurial spirit is a model in the nation, he is equally committed to philanthropy, and has made a profound contribution to countless communities and organizations over the years, and especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Joyce Hendricks, the president and chief development officer of the HMH Foundation, said the gift is greatly appreciated.

“We are so touched by Peter and Tatiana’s generosity to our network and the Hackensack Meridian Health Foundation,” she said. “The last 18 months have been extraordinarily challenging for health networks in New Jersey and the nation, and this generous support will help us deliver the high-quality, compassionate care that our communities have come to count on.”

Cancro has long helped the system and its mission. He is chairman emeritus of Hackensack Meridian Jersey Shore University Medical Center Foundation’s board of trustees, having served on the board from 1994-2003 and then 2005-2016 — with five of those years as chairman.

His family’s generosity has previously benefited Jersey Shore University Medical Center’s HOPE Tower Project, Trauma Center, Transforming Care Campaign, sponsorship support for the medical center’s Annual Golf Classic and Annual Foundation Gala events and Hackensack Meridian Ocean Medical Center’s emergency department expansion.

HMH CEO Bob Garrett said the family’s latest gesture will have a tremendous impact.

“This tremendous commitment of $10 million from Peter and Tatiana will benefit the communities we proudly serve in extraordinary ways,” he said. “We are so grateful for their generosity.

“Peter and Tatiana have been dedicated to Hackensack Meridian Health and our medical centers for more than 25 years. This exceptional gift will support our bold mission to transform health care in New Jersey and beyond.’’

Earlier this year, Cancro was named to the Top 15 of the ROI Influencers: Food & Beverage 2021 list.