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A Utah couple just bought the Subway shop where they met decades ago as employees

Jennifer and Jordan Olsen put together sandwiches at the Utah Subway where they met more than two decades ago. They now own the store. (John Chatelain)

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, and four years later, they were married.

Now 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, now 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 on Kaysville’s Main Street after more than 30 years in business, 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 in nearby Layton called On Chord Academy.

A former dental assistant, Jennifer had 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 running the restaurant in August, they’re hosting a grand reopening from 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.

“He said, ‘Whoa! A blast from the past!’ ” she recalled.

There was a time, though, when she didn't feel the same about a workplace romance with Jordan, Jennifer admitted. Although it was "love at first sight" for him, it took several years for her to come around to his desire to get married.

Jordan was sure they’d be good for each other, he said, even after he spilled Mexican food all over the interior of his truck on one of their first dates. “I guess I should have stuck with sandwiches,” he said.

After two years of dating, Jordan quit Subway to join the Army Reserves, and Jennifer decided to move back to her hometown in Idaho, he said.

"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 off her relationship 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. “It just brought back such happy memories.”

Now that they own the restaurant, they still make each other sandwiches: a turkey, ham and bacon melt with Swiss and extra vinegar for Jordan, and roast beef and provolone on Italian with the works for Jennifer. And on days when he fills in for one of the sandwich shop's 20 employees, Jordan can't help 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.”

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