Gas Station Gourmet
IT STARTED WITH
In New Hampshire and Vermont, Jake’s Market emphasizes what it does best.
BY AL HEBERT
Jake’s Market & Deli focused on food when it opened in 1997 — still a relatively unique emphasis for a c-store back then. There were no seats, but it was the best place in Lebanon, New Hamp- shire, to get a sandwich. Fast
forward 17 years and owner Ed Kerrigan has opened
seven more stores, two coffee shops and a grocery
store in Vermont and New Hampshire.
In each market, Jake’s is still making the
best sandwich around.
Kerrigan recalled the early days: “It
was a pretty bare bones deli, mostly just
sandwiches. We had a good product, good
value and a good staff. Customers liked
the people who were [working] there,
and they came back.”
One Company, Many Different Stores
As he built his business, Kerrigan’s philosophy was to acquire additional stores
that were existing operations. “I focused
on locations where the former operators struggled
making them work,” he said.
General Manager Bruce Bergeron has also
bought into the business model, saying, “Our
strength is taking a B site and making it an A site.”
The model was simple: Improve staffing, install
new attractive merchandising equipment, artfully
increase inventory of core categories (beer, wine,
snacks, candy), and most important, emphasize
Jake’s custom food program.
“We didn’t need to pour millions of dollars into it.
These were neighborhood stores. The stores are not
along the interstate and we don’t run them 24 hours
a day,” Kerrigan explained.
Each store is physically different, ranging from
1,200 to 3,000 square feet. One store is a 200-year
old barn, others have converted 2-bay service
stations and a few of the company’s purpose-built
c-stores were built 15-20 years ago. “We admire
big franchisees building modern 5,000-square-foot
stores, but we have developed a formula to compete
with them,” Bergeron said. “We fought the temptation to go with quick-service restaurants, but our
identity is the custom sandwich shop.”
Indeed, each store is customized with a menu tailored to fit its particular market. “We have a hot food
Jake’s does two
make a fantastic