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Delis and other essential food businesses have survived the COVID-19 crisis by learning (or already knowing) how to provide excellent food via curbside pick-up and delivery. Now might be the time to learn how to start a sandwich shop.
Your sandwich shop must meet a need or fill a niche that is lacking in the market you intend to serve. Figure out whether the type of shop you plan to open can offer something unique and different or serve an unserved or underserved demographic in your area. If your shop will simply duplicate, and not improve upon, other available options, you may have to rethink your direction.
Licensing, insurance, incorporation, and obtaining a federal employer tax identification number are legal and business requirements. Your local health department may also require you to pass a class or earn a certification in food safety and sanitation. Health, fire, and zoning regulations may limit the size of your shop and require a minimum number of exits and restrooms. They may also specify how many tables are allowed, how many guests can sit at any one table, and how far apart the tables must be from each other. Servers and kitchen staff may need to wear masks to protect patrons and each other.
It’s fun to spend time dreaming up fun, descriptive names for the sandwiches you hope to offer, but if you haven’t spelled out start-up and operational costs through the first few years, your creative menu items will exist only in your head.
Equipment is a major capital expenditure for a food business. Identify the types of equipment necessary for the shop you want to run. You’ll almost certainly need a meat slicer, and if you plan to differentiate your shop by making your own artisan or gluten-free bread, you might need a dough roller. Investing in the right type of quality new or refurbished professional restaurant equipment and spelling out the costs is an essential part of your business plan.
When you’ve completed your business plan, found capital, and acquired equipment, insurance, your business license, and essential food safety training, then it’s time to create anticipation and excitement about your shop. Your website, social media strategy, online ordering and POS systems, delivery and pick-up processes, and opening and closing checklists must all be in place and ready to go. Complete background checks, and make sure everyone working in or for the shop understands your brand proposition and how to communicate it to your customers.
As you can see, there’s more to starting a sandwich shop than making a menu. Run the numbers, and decide if this venture is one you want to tackle.
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