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Well known sandwich shop closing its doors in Rexburg

Rexburg

REXBURG — A longtime sandwich shop known for its delicious gator sauce, breakfast burritos and other popular items is officially closing its doors.

Gator Jack’s, located in Hemming Village in Rexburg, will close Thursday, Sept. 29.

“It’s a tough thing, and I have never had to do something like this. It’s a brutal time,” said Justin Zonts, the general manager at Gator Jack’s.

In a Facebook post from Gator Jack’s written this week, it said, “From good times to a pandemic when we turned into a grocery store temporarily, to some OK times, and now, some rough times. We have loved being part of Rexburg and hope you will remember the good times we had.”

Zonts said there are several reasons why the sandwich shop is closing, including the changing economy and rising costs.

“The cost of food on our end has gone up, and being that we are just kind of a ma and pa location, we don’t get that big buying power that the bigger companies get. When the prices go up, the prices for us go up pretty significantly, and we’ve had to raise prices,” he explained.

Wages have been another hardship.

“Wages really skyrocketed in the area. So for us to remain competitive, we had to increase our offering for hires 50%,” he said. “It’s hard to sustain when the sales aren’t there, and the cost of food keeps going up and the cost of supplies.”

Gator Jack’s currently has about 16 employees, and they were all given notice about the store closing a while back so they could prepare.

Zonts has been the general manager for the past three and a half years, while Kristen Gomez has been the owner since 2017.

“It’s a sad day coming. This has been a pretty good part of my life…I have enjoyed being here,” Zonts said.

He explained the business had been doing well up until 2020, when the COVID-19 pandemic hit. Gator Jack’s has never been able to recover and get the same kind of traction they used to have before the pandemic.

Looking at selling the business hasn’t been much of an option either.

“Our number one sandwich is called the Mudder-N-Law (which is) turkey, bacon, avocado. But right now, there’s a nationwide turkey shortage, and so for us, some of our iconic sandwiches we have that are most reputable, we aren’t able to sell. So it’s really tough to say, ‘Hey, we’ve got this business, but the things people love about it, we can’t actually sell right now,'” Zonts said.

The store is open on Thursday until 8 p.m. The restaurant was originally planning to stay open until Friday, but Zonts said there was such overwhelming support they ran out of supplies for one more day.

“It really has been a great run, and maybe something else will become of it someday,” he said.

Zonts said while he has loved the support that has been received on Facebook about the store closing, he wants to remind people about helping small businesses.

“They love that you love them, but they love when you come in and support them. I am guilty of it myself. I have said, ‘Oh man! I love this place!’ but I haven’t been in a year. Go into your places more regularly and support those small guys,” Zonts said.

Gator Jack’s has been around for several years with different locations in Rigby, Ammon, and Rexburg. Eventually, the other locations shut down, with only the Rexburg restaurant remaining open.

Gator Jacks
Gator Jack’s in Rexburg. | Jordan Wood, EastIdahoNews.com
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