After wowing enthusiastic crowds at the Bellmore Street Fair in October, many of the town's eyes, ears and appetites are on JimmyJacks, the new fresh casual burger, dogs and fries concept that is preparing to open at 221 Bedford Ave.
"We had an overwhelming response at the fair," said JimmyJacks affable co-founder and owner Dan Morris. "Saturday was rainy but it didn't slow us for a minute. On Sunday we sold out of burgers at 4 p.m. In all, over two days we sold 1,500 mini-burgers, 700 mini-dogs and about 100 big dogs. We did our best to get the food out quickly, but a big part of our philosophy is to make every order perfect, so some people had to wait. We think they appreciated the care we put into our product."
It's that same care, combined with some outside interference that has temporarily held up the actual opening of the first JimmyJacks storefront. Passionate scrutiny of everything from décor, to menu and ingredients, to the proper placement and testing of kitchen equipment has slowed the process.
"The build out is taking longer than we originally planned mainly because we are being meticulous about every detail. We had (the location) completely gutted and started from scratch. People who are familiar with the location are going to be very surprised with what we've done with the place," said Morris.
These delays have been coupled with the inevitable financial issues that are common to restaurant openings, especially in these difficult economic times.
"We thought we'd be able to get a small business loan, but we were turned down by about 20 banks," said Morris. "My brother (co-founder and owner Dave Morris) and I both have healthy financial profiles and we had a solid business plan, but we did not get a penny from the SBA [Small Business Association]."
So, like any good entrepreneur, the Morris brothers went outside the box, and managed to give back in the process.
"We turned to relatively new idea called peer-to-peer lending which is a form of micro-lending. Through Lendingclub.com we raised money with small loans from almost 100 individual lenders. This is when LendUsADollar.com was born. We created a Web site where we give people the opportunity to lend us any amount of money and in turn we donate a portion of those funds to two local charities - The John Thiessen Children's Foundation and Island Harvest."
This blend of innovation and philanthropy put JimmyJack's back on the fast track, and an opening appears to be imminent.
"There's nothing holding us up now," said Morris. "We don't have an exact date, but we're looking towards the end of February."
When opening day arrives, Morris said he feels the Bellmore dining public, of which he himself is a constituent, has much to look forward to.
"I've lived in the Bellmore community for 12 years," he added. "My family is deeply involved in the community and we want JimmyJacks to be an extension of that. The (public) can expect to feel welcome in a place that serves great food at a reasonable price. Our mission statement is: Every customer counts. Every meal counts. Every time."