As I munch on my bacon and cheddar baguette (with lashings of ketchup), sitting opposite me are James Morris and Rob Sayers. You might know them better as Jim and Bob, the culinary legends who have brought baguette-shaped love to the city of Oxford. Jimbob’s opened on 4th April 2014, and soon shot to the top of the Oxford Tripadvisor charts. “We always had a top five aim,” says Jim. “It was great when we got to number one.” Perhaps a victim of their own success, they now stand at a still impressive number four; “Sometimes we get average reviews that say everything’s nice, but it’s a sandwich shop. And that’s very annoying – that’s not the point of Tripadvisor”.
Has Tripadvisor been useful, then? “It’s such a good thing for us. When the students go away in the summer, you’ve got all these people who’ve been coming in two, three times a week, and suddenly going away for 10 weeks.” Bob continues, “But suddenly you’ve got hordes of tourists coming in – and it’s because they’ve seen us high up on Tripadvisor. It’s a really good thing, and one thing I like about Oxford is that there’s been no Tripadvisor sabotage here. I was chatting to a guy from Surrey last week who said that there all the restaurants rate each other negatively. As far as I’m aware that’s not going on here.” I’m half way through my bacon sandwich. It’s damn good.
Jim’s lived in Oxford since 2012, and Bob moved over in 2014. “I really like Oxford” – Bob again – “Though I think there’s some troubles at the moment, what with the rebuilding of the Westgate Centre, and the roads. Every shopkeeper in the city has been saying that shopping’s massively down – around 8 per cent, which is a lot.” Jim brings a more positive note: “We feel like we’re bucking the trend a little bit; our sales are up all the time”. Why could that be? “We try never to stand still. We’re always adding to what we have – ice cream, then milkshakes, now burgers and an evening menu”.
And the innovation doesn’t stop there – Jim and Bob gave me an exclusive – they plan to open up shop in uni parks in the summer “We’ll be in the cricket pavilion. We’re going to bring the sandwiches over, have hot drinks and ice cream, and hopefully an alcohol license too. We’re thinking about having events, maybe a hog roast in the evenings; a barbecue on a Sunday.” They sound excited about this new project.
As I hoover up the last morsels of my favourite sandwich, I can’t not ask what theirs is. For Bob, it’s the lemon chicken and pepper. Jim tells me about the Pauly – bacon, humus, gherkins and jalapeños – named after a customer called Paul who placed the order on opening day. He came back six months later to discover, to his surprise, that there was a sandwich named after him.
One day, I can only hope that there will be a bacon and cheddar baguette called the Willy on the menu. Actually, on second thoughts, maybe not.
As a special offer for Cherwell readers, if you mention this article at Jimbob’s for the next seven days after 3pm, you’ll receive a 30% discount.