Customers flock to CL Jersey Mike's for 'Day of Giving'

The Jersey Mike's in Crystal Lake fills up Wednesday as the restaurant plans to donate 
all of its sales to the Lurie Children's Hospital in Chicago.
The Jersey Mike's in Crystal Lake fills up Wednesday as the restaurant plans to donate all of its sales to the Lurie Children's Hospital in Chicago.

Today, the Jersey Mike’s in Crystal Lake won’t make a dime.

And that’s just fine, owner Mark Michalak said.

Jersey Mike’s restaurants throughout the country have been donating to charities during March, and today marks the "Day of Giving," as the franchise will donate 100 percent of its sales to local charities.

The Crystal Lake location, at 5006 Northwest Highway, will donate all of its sales to the Lurie Children’s Hospital in Chicago.

“Every year we’ve done it, it’s been crazy,” said Michalak, who expects to see anywhere from 25 percent to 40 percent more customers today. “There will be lines out the door.”

At noon the restaurant began to fill up as people on lunch breaks filed in to support a good cause.

Tim Heisler heard about the fundraiser through a television ad and was excited that his money was going to Lurie Children's Hospital.

“It makes my sandwich taste better,” he said.

“It's awesome,” said Ashley Rapier, who wasn't aware Jersey Mike's was donating its sales Wednesday. “I picked the right place for lunch today.”

Michalak said there’s a “culture of giving back” at Jersey Mike’s restaurants, and he rejects the notion that large franchise restaurants are bad for local business.

“Sometimes franchises get a bad rap because its ‘the big machine,’ ” he said. “People want to go to the mom-and-pop store. Well, I’m a local business owner. I live in the community. ... We give just as much back, if not more, to the community.”

The Crystal Lake and Lake in the Hills locations were Jersey Mike’s two top charity fundraisers in the state in 2012, Michalak said.

Along with Lurie, the Central Illinois Foodbank in Springfield, the Northern Illinois Hospice and Grief Center in Rockford, and the Yellow Ribbon Fund in Shiloh will receive donations from Illinois Jersey Mike’s locations. Across the country, 86 charities will be served by the company’s third annual month of giving.

Last March, Jersey Mike’s raised $858,000, benefiting 74 charities.

Since 2010, Jersey Mike’s has donated more than $5 million to charities across several causes, including breast cancer research, veteran services, and children’s charities. The restaurant chain also has given away 500,000 free subs to various causes.

Today’s fundraiser began at 10 a.m. and ends at 9 p.m.

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