Crain’s Headlines: Inspire Brands Gobbles Up Jimmy John’s


The corporate parent of Arby’s, Sonic Drive-Ins and Buffalo Wild Wings is adding Jimmy John’s to its widening roster of restaurant chains.

Inspire Brands announced Wednesday it will acquire Jimmy John’s for an undisclosed amount. Jimmy John’s, which was founded in downstate Illinois, currently has more than 2,800 locations.

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The founder, Jimmy John Liautaud, will step down as board chairman and become an adviser to the chain. The merger will make Inspire the fourth-largest restaurant operator in the United States with more than $14 billion in annual sales and more than 11,000 locations. The deal is expected to close by late October.

In other local business news:

Customer satisfaction at Chicago’s two airports continues to suffer from construction delays and surging passenger volumes. That’s according to the latest J.D. Power survey of passengers at North American airports.

O’Hare ranked near dead last in a list comparing passenger satisfaction levels at mega-airports across the United States. O’Hare edged out only Los Angeles and Newark’s airports on a list of major U.S. facilities.

Midway did slightly better but still ranked below average in a list comparing large airports.

And if you’re looking for a job at McDonald’s, you can now apply for it just by saying “Alexa” or “OK Google.”

McDonald’s is allowing applicants to start job searches via any Alexa- or Google Assistant-enabled device. The Chicago-based fast-food giant says the job application portal is the first voice-initiated application process ever.

Users start by saying, “Alexa, help me get a job at McDonald’s.” On Google, the wording is, "OK Google, talk to McDonald’s Apply Thru.” The online assistant takes it from there, connecting you to McDonald’s digital jobs board.


Crain’s Headlines is a joint production between WTTW and Crain’s Chicago Business. It airs every Monday through Thursday on the WTTW News program “Chicago Tonight.” 


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