The owner of Jimmy John’s on campus isn’t named Jimmy, or John for that matter — he’s a man named Brett Weinheimer, a Wharton graduate who just can’t seem to get enough of Penn.
After graduating in 2000, Weinheimer followed the classic path of a Wharton grad and started working for an investment banking firm in New York. When the economy took a turn for the worse, Weinheimer left New York for a consulting job in Arkansas, where he discovered the Jimmy John’s chain.
It wasn’t long before he returned to Philadelphia to work for the Penn Fund and realized Jimmy John’s would be perfect for Penn.
Yet Weinheimer’s dream to own a fast food restaurant actually began years earlier. “When I was younger I had a McDonald’s play set and I just wanted to own McDonald’s,” he said.
After finding out about Jimmy John’s in Arkansas, Weinheimer realized that he could combine his childhood dream and his love for Penn by bringing Jimmy John’s to campus.
“I really wanted to grow this campus,” Weinheimer said. “I love to see new development here. When I was here the bookstore was a parking lot.”
Weinheimer opened the first Jimmy John’s at 39th and Walnut streets in 2008 and a second location inside the Translational Research Center at 34th and Civic Center Boulevard behind the Penn Museum. He also owns two other Jimmy John’s in Pittsburgh, where a third location is under construction.
He added that he’s looking at University City for a sixth location.
Weinheimer’s experience as a student here allowed him to really understand what was missing from campus.
“I knew Penn needed a good late-night option,” he said. “When I was here, there was no place that was bright and safe and that had good food and was reasonably priced for late at night. I like to think we really understand the culture of campus,” he said. The store at 39th and Walnut is open from 11 a.m. to 3 a.m. daily.
Aside from owning two locations on campus, Weinheimer has proven his dedication to Penn in other ways. He is currently the vice president for external affairs for the Alumni Class Leadership Council and he just received the Young Alumni Award at Penn’s Alumni Gala earlier this year. He’s also a big fan of the Penn basketball and football teams and tries to make as many games as he can.
“[Brett has] a dedication to Penn unseen by me or anyone during my four years in school here at Penn or in my five years working on campus thereafter,” 2007 College graduate Alex Moser, who is the area manager of the two campus Jimmy John’s, said.
Weinheimer considers himself extremely lucky that his work allows him to be at Penn so often, yet he said that he “would be involved at Penn regardless if I had my businesses here.”
“It’s a joke in our group of friends that Brett has always been 100 percent driven to help Penn,” said 2000 College and Wharton graduate Alvaro Luna, who met Weinheimer when they were both freshmen.
In addition to adding another Jimmy John’s location in University City, Weinheimer is also developing other concepts for food options on campus.
“The more Brett has had as an individual, the more he’s given back to Penn,” Luna said. “I can’t wait for him to become a trustee someday.”