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    Sandwich Brand Goes Big on Boozy Beverages

  • Durham, North Carolina-based Eastcut Sandwich Bar is betting on its creative bar program to stand out.

    Eastcut Sandwiches
    Eastcut Cherry Cola Bourbon and Frosé slushes.

    Opened in July 2018, Eastcut Sandwich Bar is a single-unit sandwich fast casual in Durham, North Carolina, with big dreams for growth. The brand aims to offer the latest trends to customers, like with its Southern Fried Chicken Tikka Masala sandwich, while also paying homage to East Coast classics, like with the Chicken Parm and Lobster Roll.

    One differentiator setting it apart from other sandwich brands, though, is Its bar program, especially in its slush selections. “Our slushes are intended to be fun and delicious—taking an age-old tradition that you associate with American childhood and spicing it up for adults,” says Brad Bankos, cofounder. So far, Eastcut has offered Frosé, Cherry Cola Bourbon, and Orange Crush with vodka.

    “Simple cocktails work best in our service model and space limitations, and the slushes are the star of the liquor program,” Bankos says. Since opening, these frozen beverages have accounted for 30 percent of the adult beverage sales.

    In the colder months, Eastcut pivots to offering slushes that incorporate spice and warmth, like cinnamon with dark liquors. But when the warmer months come back, so will the childhood-favorite flavors, like the Blue Raz and tropical options.

    “Operationally, the ultimate goal of the alcohol program is to drive dinner and weekend volume in a business that can often be pigeon-holed to lunch,” Bankos says. The higher margins from the slush and beverage program also help balance more expensive food costs from the brand’s chef-driven menu, he adds.