ROCK FALLS – The building at 511 First Ave. was alive Tuesday morning with the sharp clack of opening cash register drawers, indistinct chatter, and the smell of baked bread.
From the road, a large black-and-red banner was the only signal to passersby that the new Jimmy John’s Gourmet Sandwiches restaurant had opened for business.
“We didn’t really tell anybody [that we were opening]. We weren’t even sure today was going to be the day,” said store owner Liandro Arellano Jr. “People had been trying to come in the last couple of days because we looked open.”
He picked up the certificate of occupancy around 10 a.m., and by 10:30, customers were being served, Arellano said. Normally, the restaurant will open at 11 a.m., but Tuesday, business began as soon as bread was ready.
“I’m really excited,” Arellano said. “It’s been a year process, maybe over a year. ... We’re really happy with the location, and the crew is certainly chomping at the bit to get going, too.”
The restaurant is located in the building that had been home to Zuppa's Deli.
The national company is expanding “pretty fast,” Arellano said as cars quickly filled the small parking lot at lunch time, and vehicles began to stack up near the drive-thru window.
The company was very specific with the blueprints – how the store would look and feel to customers, said Arellano, who also owns a Jimmy John's location in Dixon.
“The architects were a little overloaded, which caused a delay on that end,” Arellano said. "Dixon and Rock Falls were very easy to work with. … They told us up front what we needed, and I was able to plan around that.
“We’re ready to rock."