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The Sarnie Business day 3 – Meet the sarnie supremo

For The Sarnie Business, Lauren and Scott were taught to make sandwiches by catering queen Suzanne Cullen. With over ten years’ experience running Gustatus, her own successful catering business, she was also perfectly placed to pass on lots of real-world business advice to our sarnie soldiers.

Suzanne’s sandwich-making career started at the Cranks chain of vegetarian restaurants where she made sandwiches for all of their branches from the early hours of the morning. Soon, she was developing recipes and handling their outside catering, so it seemed a natural move to set up her own catering business. Over the last ten years she’s had her own café in London’s chichi Crouch End district, supplied a range of pubs and clubs, provided catering for weddings as well as running her own events including afternoon teas served with vintage china.

So what does she think of Lauren, Scott and the Sarnie Business?

“They’ve been doing brilliantly. They’re so lively and full of enthusiasm and so quick to learn. I show them something once and they’ve got it – that’s a great asset for any business. Since the first day when I showed them how to make sandwiches, they’ve run with it, developing their own ideas and quick to adapt them if they don’t quite work out.

“When they come up with ideas for new fillings I’ve been able to tell them what’s likely to work better. So I can tell if a filling is likely to make the bread soggy, or it’s likely to take too much time or cost too much to be cost-effective. They had a great idea that included a hot salsa for instance, which would have been great on a plate but it just wasn’t practical in a sandwich.

 

The great hollow roll innovation

 

“The very first idea they came up with was a hollowed out bread roll filled with salad and the concept was that there’d be less bread and more filling. So more taste, less carbs. Which is great in theory. But practically, it wasn’t a good idea because hollowing out the bread rolls was going to take them forever every morning.

“So they moved over to a more traditional baguette. Practical because you can fill one and then cut it into two or three sandwiches, which saves on time. Later they branched out into toasted sandwiches, baps and bagels for variety. They also expanded the menu to offer soup, which is very cost-effective, as well as very yummy, and cakes which provide an opportunity to upsell.”

 

Business lessons

“In my experience it’s generally better to focus on a standard menu most of the time. It cuts down on waste and it’s important to do a few things well rather than compromise on quality for the sake of having a greater range.

Scott and Lauren in the kitchen

 

“They also tried offering free tea or coffee at one stage, which was a great angle to drum up interest, although since you can charge a couple of quid for a cup of coffee these days it’s not necessarily a great long-term strategy.

“They’re doing really well so far and so long as they can keep up their levels of enthusiasm they’ll keep getting better. They’ll need to be careful with their portion control and keep on top of health and safety, as well as watching those margins and keeping their books in order, but I think they’re going to be okay.”

 

Tomorrow

Lauren and Scott get a rare surprise.

 

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