American investment company Blackstone has entered discussions to acquire the Jersey Mike’s sandwich chain, the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) has reported.

The deal could value the company at $8bn.

Blackstone’s negotiations with the New Jersey-based company are reportedly in an “on-and-off” stage. While talks have recently slowed, Jersey Mike’s is still considering a transaction with Blackstone or another interested party. 

Jersey Mike’s, formerly known as Mike’s Subs, began as a single sandwich shop on the US Jersey Shore in 1956. 

It has grown significantly under the leadership of CEO Peter Cancro, who bought the company in 1975 and renamed it Jersey Mike’s. Cancro has been franchising since the 1980s. 

The chain, known for its subs filled with sliced meats and dressings, has now expanded to 2,684 locations across the US. 

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The WSJ cited Technomic’s estimate of $3.3bn in sales in 2023, a substantial increase from 2019. 

Cancro, who owns the chain outright, plans to expand to 4,000 locations with $6.5bn in sales by 2027.  

His vision has been supported by marketing campaigns including advertisements featuring New Jersey-born actor Danny DeVito. 

“The next three years is where we really see our growth,” the WSJ quoted Cancro as saying last year.

“Roark-backed Inspire Brands bought sandwich rival Jimmy John’s in 2019, prompting private-equity firms to take a more serious look at Jersey Mike’s.”

Earlier this year, the sandwich chain partnered with Soundhound to pilot AI voice-ordering in phone calls.  

The voice AI system is operational across 50 Jersey Mike’s locations in the US and is proficient in the chain’s entire menu.