I’ve heard before that the sandwich was invented by the fourth Earl of Sandwich while playing a poker game. Is that story false?
That story is also true. And I asked the family the same thing. Their ancestor was a terrible gambler, he never got up from the cards even to go for a leak. Both of the stories are documented, but the family prefers the first one, and I can see why.
What was the initial vision when you and the family were working on creating Earl of Sandwich?
At the beginning of the concept, we decided to do something different. We decided to do a hot toasted sandwich that was designed for real speed that could be made at a very high volume. It's become a franchisee model now. We’ve got a huge amount of franchises that have been sold and are in the process of gathering more.
What sets the Earl of Sandwich product apart from sandwiches from other brands?
It's about the speed, it’s about how long the sandwiches stay hot, and it’s about the price point. I just feel that we know what a guest wants.
We came up with our own recipe for the bread. We use a company in Chicago to bake and then we finish it off in the right spot in-house. And the fillings are delicious, too.
Now that Earl of Sandwich has over 30 units, what is your approach to opening a new store? Where does the brand work best?
We do very well with turnpikes. We're on the Maryland Turnpike, we're in a bunch of different airports and we do well in these spots because our food is a perfect comfort food. It's a substantial meal, and it stays warm for a long time. We've gone for that whole perception of price and value and we've standardized the concept to a point where the franchisee can replicate it without too much trouble.
What do you look for in franchisees for the brand?
With some of my other brands, it’s talking to regional franchisees; for instance, someone who wants to take the state of Tennessee. But we’re going for smaller franchisees with this brand. We take a lot of people that just do one or two units. The idea is for them to be able to be in business for themselves.
So we're looking for people who we feel are going put their heart into it. We just follow our standard process and it gives them a chance to have their own store. The brand is fairly easy to run and we've made it a relatively foolproof concept.