Success stories

Australian Sandwich Association Awards – Lessons From Sandwich Innovators: Innovation

Sandwich “innovators” get their fill of awards – three things you can learn

By Michelle Hammond
Friday, 10 August 2012

A handful of sandwich stores have been recognised by the Australian Sandwich Association at an inaugural ceremony, suggesting there are things you can learn from the humble sandwich.


Sandwich bar Nashi, which has 10 stores in Melbourne and is negotiating a Sydney expansion, was named best franchise or chain sandwich retailer by the ASA.


Boutique café Earl Canteen was named best independent sandwich retailer, while the talent of Laura Neville, head of boutique café chain Cafenatics, was also recognised.


According to ASA executive director Graeme McCormack, Melbourne is “clearly leading the way” for the sandwich industry in Australia, calling on other parts of the country to raise the bar.


Here are three things you can learn from the humble sandwich:


1. Quality


McCormack says Nashi has broken down the common perception that you can’t buy decent sandwiches in Australia.


“Nashi has turned this mindset on its head by following a model that delivers quality, convenience and, above all, customer satisfaction,” he says.


Young Melbourne entrepreneur Sam Nash came up with the idea for Nashi in early 2002, after spotting a similar shift to healthy living in Europe.


The success of Nashi is attributed to its commitment to quality produce, and its friendly, efficient customer service.


From poaching their chicken fillets and blending their own mayonnaise to producing their own recipe of red pepper salsa, all products are made in-house.


2. Product innovation


The ASA was impressed with Cafenatics’ sandwiches because they have the “wow factor”, referring to the use of flavours and “knockout” visual presentation.


“There is such huge focus on food in the light of the MasterChef era’,” Neville has said.


“It has driven a solid conscious wedge into the minds of people who eat out every day, especially in the CBD. People just started wanting more.”


“Gone are the days of lining up for a basic toasted white sliced ham, cheese and tomato sandwich.”


“Artisan sourdough multigrain bread hand cut, Italian prosciutto, provolone cheese and heirloom tomatoes are now in firm demand, and this is what I love about the industry.”


3. In-store experience


“Earl Canteen came about because two hungry waiters spent too much time watching chefs in fancy restaurants making a snack with ingredients destined for diner’s plates and two pieces of bread,” it says on its website.


“It was the ultimate staff meal. They decided to do something about it. So sandwiches are what Earl does. Not just any sandwich, but what we have labeled ‘restaurant quality’ sandwiches.”


According to Breakfast Out editor Ellie Parker, Earl Canteen is “one good-looking kid”.


“Earl’s fit-out is a restrained little white box, filled with pretty green-legged stools, smart aprons and big smiles,” Parker wrote in a review.


“Earl Canteen is… proof that masterful design and planning does indeed result in a better sandwich, a better coffee and somehow a better clientele.”

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