What a year it’s been for Michael Balen and his family. Nearing their first anniversary of opening Jersey Mike’s Subs on Owen Road in Fenton, the family’s business is making a difference in the Fenton community.
Balen is partners with his father, Alan Balen. His wife, Anna, his younger brother, Matt, and his mother, Tracy Balen, all work at the sub shop on a regular basis. To top things off, Balen and his wife celebrated their first wedding anniversary this past week.
They will be opening a second Jersey Mike’s Subs in May in Grand Blanc and then a third in Saginaw.
Balen, who commutes from Freeland, where he grew up, is looking forward to making Fenton his home. He went to Montana State University where he played football. After college, he worked in marketing in Florida. When his dad, who was already in the restaurant business for 30 years, approached him about being partners in a Jersey Mike’s, everything fell into place.
Fenton was an available location for Jersey Mike’s. “I love Fenton,” Balen said. “It’s a great area. It’s big enough, and it’s small enough to be a hometown. We appreciate Fenton for welcoming us with open arms and always supporting us.”
Construction on their Grand Blanc shop has been delayed due to the “stay home” order, however, they had been conducting interviews for hiring and hope to open with not too much interruption.
Restaurants are considered essential during this COVID-19 pandemic and owners have scrambled to keep their businesses going, while keeping their employees and customers safe from the coronavirus, which is extremely contagious and deadly.
Balen is grateful that they have not laid off a single employee during this pandemic. They have given employees and their families free or discounted meals, as well as extra bonuses for continuing to work.
Concerned for children and teens who rely on free and reduced meals from their school, they decided to offer $2.99 Student Meals to help area families. They also offer discounts on orders online and via their app. Balen said 90 percent of their orders currently come in online or by app.
Everyone is concerned about slowing the spread of the coronavirus and protecting themselves and others.
To keep their employees and customers safe, Jersey Mike’s is following all of the COVID-19 procedures for cleaning and social distancing. “As a group, we have checkpoints. We sanitize, clean, use gloves and have Plexiglass separators for paying for orders.”
Balen appreciates how important their team members have been, and how vital they have been to the success of our business.
For the safety of their customers, they offer different ordering options, including online, in-store, carry out, call in, downloadable app, and third-party delivery with DoorDash.
Different pickup options include in-store, “no contact” at the door, and curbside.
Balen said their fresh, quality sliced meats are antibiotic-, hormone- and preservative-free. They also offer 95-percent fat-free ham products, 99-percent fat-free turkey, and grilled fresh cheesesteaks. Their fresh produce, which they prep in house, includes lettuce, tomatoes, onions, and more. Their tuna is made onsite, and their roast beef is cooked fresh in-house and bread is baked fresh daily.
Jersey Mike’s Subs of Fenton recently raised more than $1,600 for the Beaumont Student Heart Check during their Month of Giving (March) and they donated $500 to Fenton Center of Hope this past week.
Overall, Jersey Mike’s of Fenton has raised and donated more than $10,000 in the past year to local Fenton charities, schools and organizations.
An ideal of Jersey Mike’s is the “Give to Give.” Balen said that fit with the mindset of his family. “We’re glad to run a business we’re proud of,” he said.