ROCK FALLS – Construction has started at the new Jimmy John’s Gourmet Sandwiches restaurant at 511 First Ave., and a May opening is likely, its owner says.
“The demolition is done, and now we’ve moved on to the plumbing and general construction part of the work,” store owner Liandro Arellano Jr. said. Arellano also owns the Dixon Jimmy John’s.
The building has been gutted and is now being built up in accordance with company blueprints. Waiting on the blueprints had been the biggest holdup in starting the construction, Arellano said.
“Jimmy John’s blueprints are very specific, which is why we had to do special bathrooms and do new plumbing,” he said. “The company is also expanding a lot, so they have a pretty big workload.”
Although the unexpected can pop up during the rebuilding, Arellano says it has reached a point where chances are good for a May opening.
When the new store is ready, a soft opening is planned.
“We’re not going to let anyone know in advance,” Arellano said. “One day we’ll just be open and serving.”
Soft openings are common in many types of businesses, but particularly in food service. Arellano will have a totally new staff with several young people who might even be working their first job.
“Service is such a big part of what we do in this business,” Arellano said. “We want to manage expectations and make sure that these young employees don’t get overwhelmed.”
Arellano has hired a few people who already have been training at his Dixon store. He plans to hire about 30 more people before the store opens. He plans to hire a couple of people at a time, so they also can train at the other store,
Downtown Rock Falls has experienced what Arellano calls “a bit of a renaissance” of late. He says it has been exciting to set up shop with Touch of Thai II, a new sports bar, and other new businesses along the city’s main drag. In addition to the restaurant, The Touch of Thai II project, at First Avenue and Second Street, includes a bar, coffee shop, and gym/wellness center.
The progress is the result of groundwork that was laid over a long period of time, said Bethany Bland, Rock Falls Chamber of Commerce president and CEO.
“We’re very excited to see this gradually happen,” Bland said. “A great deal of time and effort went into what’s starting to happen along the riverfront and downtown.”
Arianna Krutsinger, who started working with Arellano when the Dixon store opened 6 years ago, has been promoted to replace the owner as general manager in Dixon.
“I want to be my own general manager in Rock Falls for a while,” he said, “and then I’ll probably hire someone there, too, so I can focus on area operations.”
Arellano says he is considering several other possible business projects, but he hasn’t ruled out the possibility of expanding Jimmy John’s in this area.
“I’m keeping my eye on Sterling,” Arellano said. “If the Rock Falls store is really busy, it would be easy to service another one in Sterling.”