Co-Op: Sandwich Shop

Subway is a popular lunch destination because their sandwiches are big, fresh, and tasty.  They are quick, often faster than fast food.  They are filling.  And the price is reasonable, especially on 5 Dollar Footlong Day.  With our core kitchen in place, adding a walk in customer service product line requires the addition of perhaps 1 or 2 pieces of equipment.  What makes sandwiches appealing is the speed at which a product line can be put in place.  Once the equipment is in place, license is issued, ingredients and supplies are on hand, we can have a business up and running the next day.  That's starting with a green staff.

When the enterprise is in full swing, we'll have fresh produce from the farm, cheeses and cold cuts from the deli-some baked on site, fresh bread baked daily, and condiments and spreads whipped up in the kitchen.  Everything we need is already in place, including customers.  To add sandwiches we could use a cold table, around $2000.  If assembled out of view of the customer we could improvise a cold table using containers of ice for very low cost.  

Cash flow begining in a day is appealing.  However we need to have our ducks lined up.  If we don't yet have staff available to cover the station at all times, we would be better off not to develop this project only to offer intermittent service to customers.  I'm sure we could operate a sandwich shop through dinner, but dinner is well served using a deli and supper house.  There are ways around every problem.  I've seen shops produce sandwiches ahead and store them in display coolers for customers to grab and run.  It works, but it's not the same as sandwiches made fresh to order.

If a sandwich shop is a project we wish to pursue, we'll want to consider the approach.  Do we start with sandwiches and expand from there, or start with other projects, adding sandwiches later?  If the farm is not yet producing harvestable vegetables, we can buy produce.  There's a good chance we won't be able to grow all the ingredients all the time and will purchase them from vendors.  If the bakery is not up and running, we can buy bread.  If the meats and cheeses are not in place, we can get what we need from suppliers.  Conversely, if we had the breads, meats, cheeses, and produce already in place from other aspects of operation, about the only thing we need to add is a menu.

Offering sandwiches starting on day one would, to some degree, define our store as a sandwich shop.  If we started with pizza, some people would forever see us as a pizza shop, even after we've developed numerous other products.  Starting with a deli, the public would have a better understanding of what the store offers, but even that preconception would be inaccurate.    For a 'normal' business, public perception is critical.  Our business is a bit more fluid than normal.  What we offer for products when we open the doors will evolve over time.  We'll be dealing with a changing perception of our business as it develops.  The fact that we have hundreds of people spreading the word and promoting the business will have the greatest impact on public perception.  We are well positioned to handle whatever initial impression people have.  

Since the big investment of a sandwich cold table can be substituted with inexpensive equipment that we would already have, implementing a sandwich shop can be done whenever the time is right.  All we have to do is choose to put things in place.




Cooperative Enterprise, Plan Outline