Owning four metro area Jersey Mike's Subs and overseeing all 12 stores in the metro area pales in comparison to the managing Scott Warfel has done as a parent, helping to raise five daughters who now range in age from toddler to teenager.
When it comes to his career choices, he's put family first.
In the mid-90s, Warfel became a stay-at-home dad after a recommendation from his daughter's pediatrician, who said the baby's immune system wasn't strong enough to be in day care. He stayed home for 8 years while his wife climbed the corporate ladder.
“I married way above myself. She's much smarter than I am. So I quit work,” he said.
Her career led the family to Pittsburgh, Penn., but after several years, she was burned out and wanted the stay-at-home parenting gig. So Warfel looked to his favorite East Coast sandwich shop, Jersey Mike's Subs, for career inspiration.
“I said, ‘I want to try something on my own.' She was supportive and said, ‘Do you have any ideas?' I said: ‘Jersey Mikes,'” he recalled. “I was a customer at Jersey Mike's and ate there probably two or three times a week. It was my choice to go eat on Father's Day every year. It just seemed to fit.”
He introduced Oklahoma to the authentic Jersey Shore-style subs, which are layered with meat right off the slicer and made “Mike's Way” with lettuce, tomatoes, onions, red wine vinegar, olive oil blend and spices.
Warfel recently sat down with The Oklahoman to talk work, family and sandwiches. Below is an edited transcript.
A: It took quite a while to find our first location in Oklahoma City. It was a small concept, a franchise of about 200 or 225 stores at the time. My first location was at Interstate 240 and Santa Fe and opened Nov. 11, 2004. What made it hard was most commercial properties in Oklahoma are owned either regionally or locally. They'd say, ‘Who do you want us to lease it to? Jersey who?' They'd rather have another sub shop because they were known entities.
Now 12 locations are in the metro area.
A: Madison and Rebekah are our biological daughters, and Hope, Brooke and Kylie are recent additions through adoption. But they're all my girls.
When we started doing foster care, my wife said: ‘Do you want to try for a boy or a girl?' I said so far, the Lord has blessed me with girls and I know what to do, so let's stay with girls.
I've just really been blessed with — even as they go into their teenage years — very easy, wonderful, bright, beautiful young ladies.
A: Well, I have five children (laughing). I don't play golf. It's God, family, work.
A: When we do a grand opening, we always associate it with a local charity. It really comes down to what I see as Jersey Mike's three core values: the first is giving back to the local community, the second is making the best sub — period, and the third is having a clean store with friendly staff. The charities have ranged over the stores we've opened, but the franchisee or owner gets to pick a charity that's local and also something that would be dear to their heart. When I opened the store in Warr Acres, we did Anna's House Foundation, a small 501(c)(3) that assists families who take in DHS foster children and/or adopt. They don't want funding to stand in the way of anyone who wants to take in foster children. That was very personal for me.
This year, in 2011, we're going to do a month of giving in March. Each region will pick a charity, and they'll be local charities, so they'll be a national fund
A: Number nine. It's the Club Supreme: Swiss cheese, turkey, roast beef, bacon, and of course, made “Mike's Way,” and it also comes with mayonnaise. It's my favorite cold sub.