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The key to creating a great sandwich program may be simpler than you thought. Adding the right new element to a standard sandwich, whether it's an ingredient or preparation method, can help you create a new classic, according to operators who spoke with FM.
"To lock in higher sales and ultimately boost revenues, we started to offer freshly-prepared hot grilled sandwich specials," says Joseph Kilmer, dining services supervisor for Corning, in Corning, NY.
Kilmer explains that The Melt a new, self-branded concept developed at the corninig dining room, re-invigorated its grill menu.
"We met the challenge to create a functional program with limited space and labor by featuring trendy food and focusing on a 'Great food-Great value' concept," says Kilmer. The new program is based on five core menu options (three chicken, one beef, one vegetarian) designed to yield at least 13 choices when combined with optional sauces and sides. That's a far cry from the menu that previously featured pre-made/pre-wrapped hamburgers, ham & cheese, and plain grilled chicken sandwiches held under heat lamps.
Signature sandwich style can come from the combination of ingredients inside or the bread featured outside. For example, the panini and wraps offered at Saint Clare's Health System in New Jersey use a signature European-style whole-wheat flat bread that envelopes scrumptious stuffings, according to Lynda Buntin, food service director.
"Luncheon sales just weren't where they should be last year, so we added hot sandwiches that we grill in front of customers," she says. The staff was apprehensive customers would balk at having to wait a few minutes for them, but the positive response went well beyond what they had expected. "The line to the hot station was unbelievable then (Feb. 2005)," says Buntin, "and it continues to be a high profit area now."
At Telcordia, a New Jersey-based information systems company, Whitson's foodservices takes popular cold sandwiches and gives them a "twist" by serving them hot, says District Manager, Ted Fekete.
At Telcordia the Great American sandwich concept strives to "liberate your taste buds" with impinger-style toasted sandwiches, like the Austin steak twister, a classic Philly steak sandwich that is lavishly drizzled with BBQ sauce. Another option is the Santa Fe, a picante-sauced Tex Mex spiced chicken, vegetable, and avocado stuffed wrap that in the past was prepared cold.
"We keep it fresh by watching trends, looking at classics, and by learning from the competition," says Fekete.
University of Kentucky dining programs (both retail and residential) keep sandwich sales high by appealing to students' and guests' culinary desires. "We will happily cater to any request a customer may have," says J. Thomas Rogers, manager of the student center food court. Case in point: foodservices recently built one customer his version of the perfect pizza: a double cheeseburger, piled high with banana peppers and heavy with pepperoni slices served with a side of marina for dipping.
From cold to hot, pre-wrapped to personally served, simple sandwich menu changes result in sublime recipe classics for your customers and considerable sales for you.