In 1997, Jordan Olsen, then 17, showed up for his shift as a sandwich maker at Subway in Kaysville, Utah, and immediately was smitten with a new co-worker.
“This sounds cheesy, but I peeked my head around the corner, saw the new girl making somebody a sandwich, and I was done for,” he said. “She was drop-dead gorgeous.”
After months of flashing Jennifer moon eyes as they sliced foot-longs and layered cold cuts, he finally persuaded the petite “sandwich-maker extraordinaire” to go out with him. Four years later, they were married.
In honor of that union almost 18 years ago, Jordan and Jennifer Olsen came up with a plan last summer to forever commemorate the place where they met: They decided to buy the restaurant.
“It sounds crazy, but to us it made perfect sense,” said Jordan, 39. “We’ve always been really fond of that Subway where we met. And the sandwiches aren’t bad, either.”
When he and Jennifer learned that the owners had decided to retire and sell their franchise after more than 30 years, they didn’t think twice about taking out a small-business loan and returning to the sandwich line where they’d first flirted as teenagers.
“I told Jennifer, ‘You can be the manager and I’ll show up to help whenever you need me,’ ” said Jordan, who runs a music school.
A former dental assistant, Jennifer spent much of the past 13 years working as a stay-at-home mom, caring for the couple’s three daughters, Ayla, 13, Lily, 11, and Hadley, 8. Now she could also be a breadwinner.
“With the girls becoming more independent, I could see that owning our favorite sandwich place was a good idea,” said Jennifer, 41. “I could go to work early and be home in the afternoon when the kids came home from school.”
Although the Olsens officially took over the restaurant in August, they hosted a grand reopening Dec. 30 to Jan. 4 to celebrate their new chapter as business partners.
“We have regulars who have been coming here for years and they’re all happy for us,” said Jordan. “This place is kind of like a mom-and-pop Subway, so it’s been fun to get to know a lot of the customers and learn about their lives.”
A few days after Jennifer’s first shift as owner and manager, a local lawyer came in and recognized her as one of his favorite sandwich makers from 20 years ago, she said.
After two years of dating many years ago, Jordan quit Subway to join the Army Reserves. Jennifer moved back to her hometown in Idaho.
“I was crushed when I learned she was dating another guy, and my biggest fear was that one day I’d find a wedding invitation in the mail,” said Jordan. “I played it as cool as I could and called her every two weeks, just to make sure that I was still in the mix.”
When he learned in 2000 that Jennifer had broken up with the boyfriend, “I swooped right in,” he said. “I took her snowboarding to rekindle our romance, and we became engaged that summer.”
Married in February 2002, the Olsens lived in Colorado for a year, then moved back to Utah to settle in Clearfield, just a couple of miles from their favorite Subway in Kaysville.
“We’d go in to eat there whenever we could,” he said. On days when he fills in for one of the sandwich shop’s 20 employees, Jordan can’t help but revert to his old habits.
“I still steal a look at Jennifer and tell her that I’m smitten,” Jordan said.
“Honestly, I feel like I’m the luckiest guy ever.”