Day of Giving at Jersey Mike’s: Cancro details impetus for effort that could raise $2.5 million today

Noted New Jersey entrepreneur gives keynote at ReNew Jersey event

Jersey Mike’s Subs‘ annual Day of Giving — which takes place Wednesday — has raised more than $88 million since it became part of the legacy of the franchise in 2011.

It’s an incredible effort, one in which the company donates 100% of its sales — not just a portion — all day at every store.

CEO Peter Cancro, one of the keynote speakers at the ReNew Jersey Business Summit & Expo on Tuesday in Atlantic City, told the crowd the company hopes to raise more than $2.5 million Wednesday.

He also explained how the origin of the idea goes back much farther than 2011.

Cancro, who detailed to a crowd of approximately 900 how he came to buy the original store in Point Pleasant in 1975 as a 17-year-old high school senior, explained how his impressions of how a business should interact with its community were engrained back then.

He pointed to Bob Hoffman, founder of Hoffman’s Ice Cream, and Jack Baker, from the Lobster Shanty, as his philanthropic mentors.

Cancro said he saw them both give unconditionally to youth programs, first responder initiatives — anything that would help the area.

“When I got into business, I said, ‘Well, this is what we’re going to do — and we started the mission statement then: ‘To give and make a difference in someone’s life,’” he said.

Cancro detailed the success of the company, which he began to franchise in 1987. He talked about how his mom was the first person to suggest he buy the company and how an old youth league coach (who happened to be a banker) helped him get an initial loan.

He talked about the fun he has making commercials with Jersey’s own Danny DeVito. And he noted that the company has maintained its commitment to quality at all of its more than 2,000 stores.

No one else has freshly sliced meats — and freshly grilled products — in every order. It makes Jersey Mike’s a sub above, he said.

Cancro, however, said the company’s commitment to giving is its true legacy. And its annual Day of Giving is just one part of the process.

Jersey Mike’s has participated in the Feeding America program since Cancro saw firsthand how many people suffer from food insecurity during the pandemic. Thus far, the company has helped provide more than 200 million meals, he said.

Jersey Mike’s also participates in the annual Wreaths across America program, which celebrates veterans in a ceremony he said moves all that are fortunate enough to see it.

Cancro may be one of the greatest examples of entrepreneurial spirit in the history of the state, but he told the audience that he’d rather be remembered for his company’s eagerness to give back.

“We make subs for a living, but the giving culture is what really sets us apart,” he said.