Years Ago, If You Had Standard Ham, Turkey, Roast Beef and Tuna, You Were in the Sandwich Business

"Years ago, if you had standard ham, turkey, roast beef and tuna, you were in the sandwich business. Now, it's all wrapped up—that is, wraps—and paninis. Today's savvy customers want it fresh, hot and ready to go," reports Beth Erie, g.m. at Weyerhaeuser Corp. in Federal Way, WA. And, with variations on the theme, many of her B&I cohorts agree.

Serving approx. 2,000 daily lunchtime customers at four sites on campus, Erie and her staff at this Sodexho account aim to offer a rotating selection of unique options.

"We have our own Panini Pizzazz program in the deli area, complete with a little Star Grill—a flat-top press without ridges. The advantage is that these sandwiches are made ahead for speed of service. It adds to the retail look of the deli and supports great service in the cafe."

'The Nutty Bird' wrap: Wrapping up the kudos—along with the sales—is the location's signature Weyerhaeuser Wrap, a.k.a. The Nutty Bird. This innovative version, adapted from the customers' favorite sandwich, unites cream cheese, a sprinkle of sunflower seeds, turkey, fresh cranberry-orange relish and finely shredded romaine in an herb tortilla, all wrapped and ready to go for $4.25.

A "neat" twist on the classic comfort meatball sub is now available for Weyerhaeuser employees. "We dig out a hole at the end of the unsliced roll, hollow out the center, then drizzle in some sauce, drop down mozzarella and meatballs and repeat. We've given them a great sandwich and allowed them to remain clean during the lunch hour," Erie proclaims.

Wraps and paninis are also big business at Prudential Financial in Woodbridge, NJ, a Eurest Dining account serving approx. 600 lunchtime customers. As part of the contractor's Panini Crostini program, the Italian Panini Crostini has attracted a dedicated following. Here, a club roll is split in half, with one half being garlic bread while the other is spread with pesto mayonnaise. Ham, salami, pepperoni, tomatoes and provolone cheese are layered on. For service, the made-ahead sandwich is flashed in the pizza oven then topped with balsamic-dressed baby greens with diced tomatoes, providing a cold topping on a hot sandwich made to sell for $5.29.

"One of our newest programs, the Great Grinders station, runs about once a week," exec. chef Stan Pasterczyk reports. "We prepare a variety of sandwiches on eight-inch club rolls. For example, chicken parmigiana and meatball parmigiana, etc., are made to-order. And a Cajun Po' Boy grinder is a popular combo of popcorn shrimp with coleslaw and Russian dressing.

Pre-made stacks—a pre-assembled selection of meats and vegetables such as balsamic grilled chicken, sauteed baby spinach, roasted red peppers and mozzarella cheese—go on the customer's choice of bread, perhaps ciabatta. It's all available from the Stackers Station which also runs once a week.

What's old is new: Since March, a generic, made-to-order sub station also runs weekly, with 70% of that business being traditional Italian. "And, more recently, we've created an authentic New York deli concept. The Levy's Deli, offered once every other week, is set up on our black Baja Flat display piece. Since it sits over four hot steam wells it gets really hot.

"We cook fresh corned beef and pastrami and set it out, shaved, on the Baja Flat. The unit is also used for about a dozen different themes in- cluding a gyro bar offering sliced gyro meat, tzatziki sauce (scratch-made), tomato, onion and feta cheese, all in a pita pocket, plus french fries," Pasterczyk explains.

A sandwich fest: Troy Smith, Eurest Dining's exec. chef at Prudential's Concourse Cafe in Newark, NJ, has been busy adding items to his innovative Sandwich Festival concept.

"Sometimes I come up with the name, such as 'Dragon's Breath,' before I decide upon the sandwich ingredients. My first assistant cook, Aurelio Reyes, helped develop this combo of fried top sirloin steak, pepper jack cheese, chipotle salsa, roasted peppers, hot cherry peppers, jalapenos, onions, chorizo and fried potatoes on ciabatta. All have garlic bread as a component and sell very well priced at $5.29," Smith asserts.

Daniel Long, as conference and catering chef at Oracle Corp., a Bon Appetit location in Redwood, CA, may serve as many as 500 guests a day—and sandwiches consistently comprise 30% to 40% of the orders, he finds.

Turkey's tops: Turkey is still No.1 here, but the chicken is also in demand, especially for paninis. Plus, the unit's signature Genoa Grinder generates substantial sales, as well. It's really a muffuletta with ham, imported mortadella with pistachios, Genoa salami and aged provolone. Long and his staff make their own olive tampenade for the bread and include spinach and tomatoes on the sandwich.

"Putting fresh tomatoes on a sandwich is not 'in vogue' because it makes the bread soggy. But if you use nice dry lettuce on the bottom, the cheese on top and juicy items including tomato in the center, there's no problem," Long suggests.

Want breaking news at your fingertips?

Click here or text FSD to (877) 281-7554 to receive text alerts from FoodService Director and get the news and insights that matter to your operation.


More from our partners