brand experience brief: jason’s deli

Here’s another Brand Experience Brief, a video audit and analysis of a new or interesting retail or restaurant concept.  Today, we’re looking at Jason’s Deli, a fast casual restaurant chain that can be summed up in one word:  BIG.  Check it out:

DLYohn Brand Experience Brief: Jason’s Deli from Denise Lee Yohn on Vimeo.

Jason’s Deli is one of seven brands profiled in my upcoming book, Extraordinary Experiences: What Great Retail and Restaurant Brands Do.  Subscribe to my feed or follow me on Twitter so you can be one of the first to get a copy.

other Brand Experience Briefs:


Welcome to today’s Brand Experience Brief on Jason’s Deli, a fast casual restaurant chain.  Although Jason’s Deli operates more than 240 locations across 28 states, I’m guessing many of you may not have even heard of the brand so I want to give you a quick audit and analysis of it.  The one word to sum up the experience at Jason’s Deli is big — as in big menu, big space, the Big Easy, and a big heart.

First, the big menu.  Jason’s Deli’s product offerings range from soups, to salads, to vegetarian specials, pastas, sandwiches, and a full salad bar.  There are more traditional items such as a Mediterranean wrap sandwich and chicken noodle soup, as well as a Quinoa Shrimp & Mango Salad and the chain’s famous Muffaletta sandwiches.  I ordered the quarter roasted turkey breast Muffaletta, and it was so big, I couldn’t even get my mouth around it.

The restaurant itself is big.  The typical site is 4,500 square feet — for comparison Chipotle’s average restaurant size is about half that.  I’m guessing the size comes in handy when the restaurant gets busy, which is why they have a special self-serve check-out stand for salad bar only customers, and the spacious open kitchen where most items are prepared seems more than adequate for handling huge volumes.

Although Jason’s Deli was founded in Beaumont TX and continues to operate from there, the brand has a definite tie to The Big Easy, New Orleans.  Not only does it serve those huge Muffaletta sandwiches but it also offers gumbo and New Orleans bread as a sandwich option.  And the restaurant decor includes old fashioned pictures from New Orleans.

Finally the big heart of Jason’s Deli is on display through bold signs and custom water bottles supporting its Strike Through Cancer program that funds cancer research in partnership with the MD Anderson Cancer Center, as well as a thoughtful sign on its salad bar about the egg shortage, the proudly-displayed profile of the employee of the month, and the company’s mission statement on the sales manager’s business card.  That’s not to mention the extremely friendly service and the free ice cream cones given to every customer.

Jason’s Deli has a few other distinctives.  You can’t miss its catering business which represents 40% of its sales — there’s a 22 page catering menu available, signs promoting catering, and all the catering bags on display. Also there’s a focus on health, with lots of vegetarian and gluten-free options and about five years ago it banned high-fructose corn syrup from its food and eliminated artificial dyes and colors from the menu.

All in all Jason’s Deli offers a unique brand experience and that’s part of the reason why it was named favorite sandwich chain by Market Force, beating out Panera, Firehouse Subs, and Subway.  It’s also why I’ve included the brand in my new upcoming book Extraordinary Experiences: What Great Retail and Restaurant Brands Do. My book takes you behind the scenes at Jason’s Deli and six other extraordinary brands to show you how they got to be so great.  Subscribe to my feed or follow me on Twitter so you can be one of the first to get a copy.

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